Making thinking visible

Many times what we learn mirrors what others are doing around us. We watch, we imitate, we adapt, we construct from there, we develop. Now imagine learning to dance when the dancers around us are not visible. Strange as it may seem, something very close to it happens all the time when learning to think. Thinking is pretty much invisible.

What we did in our group was try a way of making thinking visible through the use of art. The learners browsed through a menu of short stories and they chose the one that attracted them most. Yes, each learner can choose what to read and yet be in the same class as peers who have taken different reading decisions and paths. 

First, the learners decided what to read and I made sure that more than one student would read the same story from the menu.

We followed the several-stories-but-same-task approach. When the time came to discuss the stories we left the classroom and went to the place that speaks volumes about books: the library, which accounted for a big portion of the successful outcomes.  There the students gathered in different corners with the like-minded partners who had read the same short story.

The task I set was very simple, the thinking they engaged in was not: they were asked to say what was meant by the title and to select powerful quotes so as to discuss their implications. Next came art and that was when their thinking became visible.

These are the posters they designed to encourage others to read their short stories in our school:

All this flowed from rendering thinking visible. However, the first step is to overcome the problem of invisibility. Part of the challenge lies in the invisibility of thinking, which is in itself invisible. We are so used to thinking being invisible that we do not notice how easily thinking can stay out of sight. As educators then the first task is to see the absence, to hear the silence, to notice what is not there. A journey of one thousand miles, the Chinese proverb says, begins with but a single step. Seeing the absence is an excellent first step.The second making thinking visible through art.

Art invites thinking, encourages visual literacy, fosters different learning modalities, develops forms of thinking that are vital to grow as individuals. The positive payoffs of the experience? Thoughtfullness, accomplishment, enjoyment, ownership, and above all a dream come true: a bunch of adolescents staying 20 minutes after the class was due, handling books and gathered around the librarian to borrow one!

Teacher: Analía Dobboletta
Class: CAE 'C'


  1. Anonymous02 May, 2012

    Wow!!! Congratulations to all who took part!! It´s wonderful to see how much creativity can be liberated through reading!

  2. Dear Analia and students!
    Excellent job!! I really enjoyed reading your posters and looking at your designs! They are really artistic!!
    Keep on working hard and making thinking visible!!
    Silvia Colombo


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