Visible Thinking; Zoom-In

Context: We are studying maps of Japan and its natural landforms

This was a lot of fun.  The kids really got into this strategy and some great discussion ensued.  There was little debate, they seemed to all be on the same page, playing off each others ideas and building up their theories together.  I was orienting attention towards the changes in their discussion.  As each iteration of the picture expanded, the subject of the conversation also changed.

Note: The name of the routine is called zoom-in, but in hindsight, I should have changed that to zoom out!

Iteration 1

Here the conversation surrounded the question of whether or not this was a map.  They knew we were studying maps, so it was obvious that is might be a map.  However, they also know that I like to trick them (their word, my word would be perturbe). There was evidence for both sides and the kids did a great job of collecting both sides of the story.  The made T-Charts and put down all the arguments against it being a map, and all the evidence for it being a map.  It was amazing to see such long list from such a tiny picture!  It was also a great lesson in dialectical thinking, as the kids were able to hold both ideas in their head and believe that both of them may be true.  This open-mindedness is wonderful to see.

Now, the conversation shifted.  It is most certainly a map.  The question is, where?  Again, we kind of broke into two camps.  Most of them agreed that it must be a map of Japan, since we are studying Japan and its maps.  But what part of Japan?  They used their knowledge of the geography of Japan to break it down to several possible options.  The oceans on three sides was a clue.  As were the mountains in the center.  I would not allow them to have pencils or paper, so they mentally and physically were drawing maps with their fingers, trying to see where it would fit.  Great exercise in visualization, which is one of mathematical habits of mind.

Yep, it was Hokkaido.  Here, we had a discussion about how the focus on the conversation changed, and why it changed that way.  I think they got the idea that as we get more evidence, our view changes.  I didn't connect it to the larger body of science in general and how our understanding of the world has evolved.  Save that for another day.

I wonder how many slides are best for this routine?  I found myself wishing I had included a fourth slide because there was such great thinking going on, but then looking at the map I think that it would have made the progression weaker.  I don't see another step I could put in that would have created new pathways for conversation....


  1. Craig have you seen the Zoom books? I love using them to show perspective. You can start in the middle of the books and work forward or backwards - or I have given forwards to one group of kids and backwards to another.....

  2. No. Who is the author? Do you have a link?


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