Teach Thinking Skills to Help Learners Understand Better

Teach thinking skills to improve the ability to understand.

In her article, Tools to Enhance Young Children's Thinking (Young Children, National Association for the Education of Young Children, September 2010), Angela K. Salmon urges teachers to instruct children how to think using Thinking Routines.

According to Salmon, it is important for teachers to use thinking routines on a regular basis, not only to give children a sense of security and confidence, but also to create habits of mind as they develop a culture of thinking. When thinking routines become part of the classroom culture through repeated practice, they create patterns of thinking and learning that become part of the child’s intellectual character (Ritchhart 2002). 

Salmon emphasizes that thinking routines as well as documentation of learning are tools that enhance children’s cognitive development by helping them become aware of their own creative thinking and problem-solving skills by making their thinking visible. According to her, they not only activate children’s prior knowledge but also expand their thinking and understanding.

Salmon writes that there are no obstacles to teaching thinking routines. First, thinking routines are easy to teach and developmentally age-appropriate. Second, research has shown that critical thinking can be explicitly taught (Tishman, Perkins, & Jay 1995; Ritchhart & Perkins 2005, 2008; Barahal 2008; Salmon 2010). Salmon has outlined seven critical thinking routines to be taught, most of which can be found on the visible thinking project website. They are:

This routine . . .                                     . . . encourages this type of thinking                 

What Makes You Say That?                        interpretation with justification

Think/Puzzle/Explore                               setting the stage for deeper inquiry

Think/Pair/Share                                      active reasoning and explanation

Circle of Viewpoints                                  exploring diverse perspectives

I Used to Think . . . Now I Think . . .         reflecting on how/why our thinking has changed 

See/Think/Wonder                                    exploring works of art/other interesting things

Color, Shapes, Lines                                  exploring the formal qualities of art

If you would like to learn more about The Visible Thinking Project, created by Patricia Palmer,David Perkins, Ron Ritchhart, Shari Tishman, please click here: http://www.simplesite.com/builder/pages/editpagecontent.aspx?pageid=421504410

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