Visible Thinking; Looking Ten Times Two

This one is not in the book, but was recommended by a good friend from the Visible Thinking website.  The flexibility of this routine allowed a very interesting conversation to emerge, one which I had not planned for.  This is what I love about VT, it allows a space for emergence to take place, and expands the scope of what you are doing to new and exciting places.  Also, anyone who knows me well enough or reads this blog could predict that I would eventually use the VT routines in a Math class. Took me a little longer than I thought it would, but here it is....


Context: Starting a new math unit on Data Management

Quietly Look - this is an important step for tuning into the diagram.  I had 30s on the template above, but it was more like a minute.  I have no idea what they are thinking about, but I tell them to try and look at the whole picture and just feel it.  We meditate daily in my class, so I think they are getting a sense of this feeling that I talk about, which is impossible to put into words.  More than feeling, a sense of mindfulness....

List 10 Words - Here the groups worked together on their page and wrote down ten different things that they saw.  I didn't really interject here, but I saw something interesting emerging in what they were writing.  At this point it was a feeling that I couldn't explain.  The picture itself was just a simple graph, with bars and lines and titles and a scale.  It could have been any type of graph really, I wanted them to thinking less about the details of the graph and more about the concept of Data and how it is visualized.

List 10 more Words - This is where something interesting happened.  A student in the class made a comment to a classmate that she was reading that wrong.  At this point, people were struggling (which was my hope) with listing what they see.  They started to read the graphs instead of just listing what they saw.  I noticed that there were two distinct types of comments being written down; those that were about what is there, and those that required an act of reading.  For example, the observation that in the year 2010, Cats are more popular than Dogs, is reading.  It does not say that on the graph, but by understanding the data and the context of the picture, they read that information from the graph.  They are taking out of the graph.  I stopped the class and introduced this theory I had between Seeing and Reading.

We then moved into a discussion about the difference between the two.  What is the difference?  What are we doing that makes these different?  Together as a group we created a mind-map.

This led to them having a discussion with their groups about which of their 20 points were seeing, and which were reading.  At this point I had completely abandoned my original plan and was in adaptation mode, bouncing among the groups and observing where they were taking the learning.  They were shading in the observations in different colors and trying to differentiate the two different ways of observing.

I thought that we needed a way to pull all this together and finish this off, so I jumped right into the main topic at hand, Data.  As a group, we made a huge mind-map, and they copied it down into their books.  I hadn't planned to actually introduce the main idea until tomorrow, but the great thinking that was happening made we want to keep going.  That is one of the things I love about Elementary School, we don't have fixed blocks where a subject is a subject.  We are able to go with the flow.

Again, a VT routine sparked great thinking, which sent us in an interesting direction that I had not planned.  That is the true power of this book.  It's expansiveness.