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Thinking Education: See, Think, Wonder

Thinking Education

What is See Think Wonder and How Do You Use It?

See Think Wonder is a thinking routine developed to help establish critical and creative thinking. It encourages students to look at an image. Educators then as students to consider what the image is showing. This inspires deeper thinking about images that students might otherwise ‘gloss over.’

Visible Thinking is a new take on older educational principles. It is designed to work well with modern methods of teaching (Flipped Learning, Growth Mindset) and ICT. In fact I would argue that all modern teaching should incorporate some level of visible thinking. Because the project of Visible Thinking is all about making the thought process of students open and visible.

See Think Wonder in action?

Writing wordcloud
Word cloud on writing

Have a look at the above ‘word-cloud.’ This is a word-cloud made up of a variety of words relating to writing. If I was to present this in a document, or on a webpage for students many of them would skim past the image. What See Think Wonder does is encourage students to dwell on the image a little further. In the same way that Zoom In asks students to puzzle over an image, See Think Wonder evokes curiosity.

I would ask my students to follow three simple steps. Steps which they would need to use a writing implement for (pen, pencil, paper, computer, tablet etc.). The first step is See, the second step is Think, and the third is Wonder.

For the See step, students will observe an image and write down everything that they see. Whether this is shapes, colours, people or anything else. They will not explain what the image is about, they will simply write what they see. This takes about 2-5 minutes to run with students depending on the class. For added depth you can then ask students to pair and share what they see after this time.

Step two involves the Think process. Students will then write down everything that they think is in the image. Or what they think the image might even be about. They should take anywhere from 5-10 minutes for this step and can once again pair and share with classmates.

Finally, students should write down their questions. The Wonder stage involves students considering what they still wonder about the image. Is there anything they don’t know or have developed questions about? Once again students can take 5-10 minutes for this stage and share with peers.

Educators can end See Think Wonder in many ways. They can determine what students have learnt by asking for group oral feedback. Teachers can ask students to submit their written work. Or educators can also take the time to explain and explore the image with the entire class.

Positives and Negatives?

See Think Wonder works best with more abstract images. Images that students do not know and can puzzle over. However, this routine can also be used to breathe new life into old images and concepts. As with the word-cloud above, asking students to perform See Think Wonder on this image can help teachers gather feedback about student knowledge of writing. More importantly the valuable questions students are considering can be gauged.

The failings of See Think Wonder come when it is overused. Or used on an image that does not evoke curiosity and thought. Students need the opportunity to explore strange and unfamiliar concepts so they are properly challenged. This is where the teacher wanting to use See Think Wonder must ultimately apply judgement and consider when it may be appropriate to use this routine. Or whether it may be better to use another.

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