Course 5 Proposal: How can technology make thinking visible?

Where I am on my COETAIL journey:

  • I am really excited about most of the ideas we have learned about in Courses 1-4.
  • I am looking forward to implementing our course 5 project  next semester.
  • I have an idea for the project, combining tech with one of my professional areas of growth.
  • I have written down lots of possibilities and initial thoughts to bring this project to life.
  • I will need critical feedback from the COETAIL community to make this possible.
  • I am starting to wonder how I will continue such professional growth once I have completed COETAIL course 5.
  • I feel ready to go from ideas to implementation and am looking forward to that adventure.

Below is my UBD planner for the the Course 5 project. My question that has floated to the top is: How can I use technology to make student thinking more visible?

There are obviously still places that need polishing and most likely scrapping and reinventing. But actually that’s exactly the heart of the unit. Tracking how our thinking develops, justifying the changes, and reflecting on the whole process throughout. My students and I will be experiencing the same journey of making our thinking visible.

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 9.06.29 PMThere are two main reasons why I want to try this yearlong unit for my Course 5 project:     1. I am really excited about it! I want to know more about how visible thinking works, how I can implement it, and how I can use technology to enhance it.

2. I think my students will be more engaged, will acquire and hone their technology skills, and will develop deeper understandings both about the content and themselves as thinkers.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 9.09.40 PMMy main concern is that I am starting from scratch. I have chosen to create a unit rather than integrate into an already exisiting one. I have also decided that this will be a year long unit rather than having a clear start and end date. On top of that I am selecting technology tools that I have minimal experience with so yeah, I have some concerns. Basically what it all comes down to is: am I biting off more than I can chew or am I making this harder than it needs to be? I sure hope not.


What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 9.11.57 PMThis project will require two major shifts:         1. I will need to challenge myself and my students to consciously think about our thinking. There will now be an added layer to our learning. I will need to design experiences to facilitiate and nurture that metacognition.    2. I will need to work closely with our tech integration specialist to match content lessons with appropriate tech tools. I will need to learn about these tools, play around with them on my own, and then introduce and support my students in their application.

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

Skills: flexibility, creativity, collaborating, explaining, applying, modifying, comparing, examining, revising, critiquing, justifying, writing, labeling, drawing, explaining, describing, discussing, evaluating, synthesizing, assessing, summarizing, metacognitive, problem-solving, predicting, describing, identifying, matching, sharing, demonstrating, recording, outlining, determinig, selecting, publishing, creating, recognizing, managing time . . .

Attitudes: positive thinker, honest, articulate communicator, reflective, resilient problem-solver, resourceful, active listener, ethical, growth-mindset, passionate, engaged.


So after all that thinking about thinking, these wonderings now float to the surface:

  • What am I not thinking of?
  • How do I teach students to articulate their thinking?
  • What is a feasible balance for 5th graders between thinking and thinking about thinking?
  • Who can I contact/learn from that already has knowledge/experience about this?
  • What can I try/read/look into over the summer to support this project starting in August?
  • and finally . . . What do others think?


7 Replies to “Course 5 Proposal: How can technology make thinking visible?”

  1. This is a way cool project. I want to borrow some of your ideas to put into my teaching practice next year? My project is different but your ideas will make student stronger learners as future-digital learners, no matter how you slice it.

  2. I absolutely love this project idea! I love that it’s not a one-off project, but a new way of sharing student thinking throughout the year. Yes, I think it’s a big task, but I think if you start small and do a little bit at a time, you will create and develop productive habits that you can continue over the course of the year. My main bit of advice is not to try to do everything immediately. Start with one area where you can document student thinking (and whatever teaching and learning needs to happen to make that a relevant activity for your students), and then add another once that one is comfortable. You can do it!

  3. I think is focus is great! The nice thing about it not being a unit is that you can truly develop it over the course of the year. Essentially, you could go through the process right along with your students; documenting your thinking through out the year and reflecting on what you would change or do differently going further. I love that you are allowing your students the freedom to choose their thinking routine as well as the method for how they will share. I’m just curious what grade level you teach? We’ve done some dabbling in having the students explain their mathematical thinking using Easy Blog Jr. App It is super easy for my kinders to use. It is also nice to tag their posts with their name or label like “math. Here’s an example: Now at the end of the year they listen to how they’ve grown in their ability to share their thinking. They now choose to independently share their thinking about everything, even different purposeful play projects we’ve done. It’s been really powerful. I will look forward to reading about the tools your students choose to use and how it goes!

  4. Ohhh I love this idea as well. I too am going to take the HGSE course. Perhaps we could connect around that a bit? I am going to test out a few protocols at the end of this year and did a shout out on twitter for educators favourites. I really think that leaning on technology we can enhance how our students showcase their learning. One major step I took this year was to leverage Google Sites as a forum in which students could document their thinking and learning. I teach Art at a school which is using the National Core Arts Standards and I love how I was able to connect the 4 cluster standards as content areas on each of my students sites. It allowed for a really nice way for my students to organize and showcase their learning. Our school primarily uses portfolios as showcases of best work, but this year I have jumped into the use of sub pages to allow for students to use their portfolio more as process based learning sites. As a recent COETAIL grad – I know the final project seems daunting but it looks like you have set yourself up for success. I can’t wait to see how this progresses.

  5. This sounds soo cool! The idea of using technology to track kiddos’ thinking throughout a unit (or year?) and then using said thinking upon which to add another layer of meta. The difficulty I’ve had with MTV is wall space (we had a Wall of Thinking) to archive documentation…it runs out quickly. But with technology this organization becomes heaps easier. I’m really curious of the outcome of thinking routines on their visible thinking throughout the unit.
    Another book to consider is Richhart’s first book, “Intellectual Character.”

  6. Rebecca, you have selected a fantastic topic for your project! Making thinking visible is something that is making its rounds through my school, spearheaded by a teacher who has a particular interest in it. It makes sense for individual as well as group learning, and can be used by anyone from age 3 to 100. To ease some of your concerns about introducing the concepts while also dealing with the tech learning curve, you might start with non-tech exercises, such as having students map their brainstorming or group thinking with sticky notes. This intermediate step might help them get an understanding of visible thinking while using more physical movements. The maps can remain on display in the classroom for days or weeks as your unit progresses, to remind students of the foundations while using technology to expand their thinking and enable more collaboration. Imagine how the skills your students will learn will carry them through their learning this year and beyond!

  7. I also think it is a GREAT project – I’d love to follow your idea (and then steal it!), so I look forward to seeing how it goes. You obviously did a great amount of research before writing up your UbD planner – and put me to shame with that! I admit to avoiding that planner at all costs as I still can’t really understand it. But you did such a great job that I might use yours as a template when I try to tackle mine this summer. I think you and me might both have the same problem – trying to pack too much into a relatively short amount of time! So I will also take Kim’s advice also, to focus on one thing at a time – and bare that in mind when making my planner.

    You asked about an animate app… I was recently a mentor to a G5 ‘Exhibition’ group and watched them give a presentation to a younger grade class on their project. The animated presentation was really impressive and I wasn’t entirely sure they’d made it themselves, (I thought maybe they’d downloaded it from the internet). Anyway, its called PowToon . I haven’t tried it, but it says it is free, and it must be super easy to use as my group hardly had the best IT skills in the world, nor an elastic amount of time to create the presentation in. Take a look and see if it fits what you are looking for.
    Good luck with your project.

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