We can agree that thinking is an integral part of learning. However, wemust not forget that thinking is invisible. So, what is really meant by the term,visible thinking? To start with, visible thinking refers to any kind of observablerepresentation that documents and supports the development of an individual’sor group’s thoughts, questions, reasons, and reflections: mind maps, charts andlists, diagrams, worksheets are considered visible thinking if and only if they Athens Journal of Education May 2018165reveal the students’ unfolding ideas as they think and reflect about a certainissue or topic (Tishman ; Palmer, 2005).
Hattie (2012) differentiated betweentwo visible aspects of thinking: one aspect refers to making student learningvisible to teachers, and hence, ensuring clear identification of the attributes thatmade a visible difference to student learning, while a second aspect refers tomaking teaching visible to the student, so that they learn to become their ownteachers, which is the core attribute of life-long learning or self-regulation.Now, that we are more familiar with the term, “visual thinking” let usconsider another vital question: What tools are used to make thinking visible?Tishman (2002) provided an example by stating that questions, such as, “Whatis going on here?” “What do you see that makes you say so?” do call for visiblethinking. Ritchhard et al. (2011) described, “Open ended questions – asopposed to closed- ended, single-answer questions – are generally advocated asmeans of pushing beyond knowledge and skill and toward understanding” (p.30). Listening is another tool that is used to make thinking visible.
Listeningconveys a sense of respect for and an interest in the learner’s contributions, andwhen this is present, students are more willing to share their thinking and putforth their ideas (Ritchhard et al., 2011). Other tools that can be used to makestudent thinking visible are visual thinking routines, which are often used asdocumentation (Ritchhard et al.
, 2011). Such tools are referred to as routinesbecause they represent a sequence of actions designed to achieve a specificoutcome in an efficient manner (Ritchhart, 2015). Visual thinking routineswere first designed by the Faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education: