Thinking Education

Thinking Education: Zoom In

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Zoom In is a thinking routine which can be used for any image a teacher wants to draw particular attention to. For example if a teacher is teaching a History lesson and wanted to highlight the horrors of racism in the past. They may use an image in which smiling members of the public belittled others. Or if a teacher was teaching Art and wanted to focus on a particular aspect to a painting. An aspect that students may otherwise miss in their observations. Or if a teacher was teaching Biology and wanted to highlight a particular aspect of an animal’s natural features in a photograph. The ideas roll on, and on. Regardless, the main purpose of Zoom In is to provide students with a clear focus on an aspect of an overall image.

Step 1 –

 Show the students the first part of the image after informing them that you want to show them an image. You want them to write down everything they can see (from the colours of objects to the type of objects etc.). They also need to write what they think the image is about. Give time for the students to think and then use some more time for students to share with fellow students about what they saw. They must also share what they thought the remaining image was about. For creating the image PowerPoint is a useful and common software.


Step 2 – 

Repeat this process by showing the students a second part of the image. Then ask them to work with other students to write down what they can see. They must then write what they think the image is now about.


Step 3 – 

Repeat the process one more time.


Step 4 – 

Reveal the overall image after allowing suspense and drama to build between the teacher and students. Then ask students what they think the overall image is all about and why they think the teacher has taken them through this process. How does the image connect to the content they have learnt or are learning? Finally, ask students to write down any questions they still have about the image and prompt them to reevaluate how their perceptions of the image changed across the learning experience.


The power of this thinking routine is that it requires students to constantly be reassessing what they know. Students must think creatively and critically, outside the box. Because students need to write down from the start what they think the image is about, they cannot say ‘I knew what the image would be about’ as a bluff. Rather students must explore the whole image step by step. They must also think carefully about the image. This is a substitute to skimming the surface information.

This routine can take a full lesson if carefully used. Or it can be shortened for a quick starter exercise. The importance is that it is used to get students thinking about an image in greater depth. In the example above, students were considering different interpretations of Medieval village life. They particularly focused on what each image revealed. Most students believed the image was one whole image at first. This was until they realised each image was separate. This forced many students to reevaluate their assumptions. This is the real power of the Zoom In learning experience.

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