Chatboards
Mailrings
Classifieds
Lessons
Jobs
Harry Wong
Projects
Live!
Gazette
Advertise
SUBSCRIBE | SUBMIT
Dec 2017
Vol 14 No 4
BACK ISSUES


Thinking Made Visible by Sarah Powley

By Sarah Powley, Education Coach
 

the student’s logic. That makes checking proofs time-consuming—just as, when reading students’ essays, the English teacher has to follow the student’s train of thought in order to make actionable comments. But from heavy duty assignments like proofs and essays, teachers learn precisely what students don’t understand—or do, as the case may be.

Old-fashioned sentence outlines are also great revealers. Students prefer the bullet points of a topic outline, of course, because they can bluff their way through an outline check or turn in something when they haven’t really started thinking about their topic. But when ideas aren’t connected with transition words and complete sentences aren’t available for examination, the teacher can’t really follow the student’s train of thought. When a sentence outline has gaps and misunderstandings, the teacher can direct next steps.

One of my favorite lessons in my composition classes is an exercise in understanding how sentence outlines work. I find or construct a fairly complicated sentence outline of a research topic, cut the sentences into strips, remove the numbers and letters, and assemble sets of these sentences, all jumbled up. Students form groups, and I hand each group a set of the sentences. They spend the rest of the period figuring out the outline based on logic and the clues provided by transition words. Then, of course, I require them to construct their own sentence outlines so I can track their thinking as they work through the research process.

And when I really cast my thoughts far back into the recesses of my life in an American classroom, I remember sentence diagramming. I’m not advocating for bringing that back necessarily, but I do have to say, faulty diagrams revealed exactly what students didn’t understand about sentence structure.

Whenever a performance is required, whenever students do something, we see thought in action: Their level or degree of understanding is immediately evident in the performance of a musical piece, the execution of an art project, the preparation of a recipe, the construction of a garment, the reassembly of an automobile system. The problem is, when what we seek to understand is a mental process, it’s not so readily visible. Sketch notes help. Graphic organizers and graphic summaries help. Models and puzzles and other manipulatives do the trick.

But what else? Respond to this post and tell me about the activities and processes you employ to make thinking visible. I’d like to put together a gallery of thought-tracking possibilities.

And if you purchase some of those neon markers? Be sure to get some Windex and a roll of paper towels, too. You’ll need them! This activity is addictive!

About the author

Sarah-PowleyAn English teacher for 37 years, Sarah has taught in secondary schools in Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Indiana.

For many years, she served as the English Department Chair at McCutcheon High School in Lafayette, Indiana, and is now a full-time Instructional Coach for her district. Honors include the Milken National Educator Award, the Eli Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowship, the Irena Sendler Award for Holocaust Education, and Purdue University’s Crystal Apple Award. http://www.sarahpowley.wordpress.com Additional articles by Sarah Powley.

 

 

Pages: 1 2



Comment on this article...

Next Article...
 
This entry was posted on Friday, December 1st, 2017 and is filed under *ISSUES, December 2017, Sarah Powley. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.14 No.4 Dec 2017
Cover Story by Barbara Blackburn
Keys to Blended Learning
More Teacher Articles...
»Classroom Management Articles by Harry and Rosemary WongHarry K. & Rosemary Wong
»Thinking Made Visible by Sarah PowleySarah Powley, Education Coach
»The Soil of LearningTodd R. Nelson
»Classroom Management Articles by Harry & Rosemary WongHarry K. & Rosemary Wong
»Paraprofessionals: Handling Student Behavioral Issues in the Classroom by Susan FitzellSusan Fitzell
»Helping Children Affected by Parental Drug AbuseLeah Davies, M.Ed.
»Dark Matter goes to Kindergarten - A Poem by Todd R. NelsonTodd R. Nelson
»Breaking the Color Barrier: Wilfred "Boomer" Harding & the Chatham Coloured All-Stars (1932-1939)Internet Scout Report
»Coursera: The Modern and the Postmodern (Free Course)Internet Scout Report
»Child-Centered STEAM: Three Ways to Encourage Inquiry and Creativity by Abby ConnorsAbby Connors
»Apple Seeds - 60 Quotes for EducatorsBarb Stutesman

By State
AL   AK   AZ   AR   CA   CO   CT   DE   DC   FL   GA   HI   ID   IL   IN   IA   KS   KY   LA    ME   MD   MA   MI   MN   MS   MO   MT   NE   NV   NH   NJ   NM   NY   NC   ND   OH   OK   OR   PA   RI   SC   SD   TN   TX   UT   VT     VA   WA   WV   WI   WY