What is Core Visible Thinking?

Erin Smith
Updated on
August 28, 2020

Core Visible Thinking is an educational approach that has been thoroughly researched and has proven to be incredibly effective when applied in a classroom setting. This approach is essentially a collection of practices and routines that can be adapted to the individual classroom depending on the subject matter being taught and the content being discussed at the time. The goal of Core Visible Thinking is not only to improve the culture of thinking in the classroom and enhance critical thinking skills but also to help students develop a deeper understanding of the content being discussed.

Core Visible Thinking Routines 

At One World International School, we believe that our students need to learn more than just facts and statistics. We have developed a culture at our school that, when coupled with our curriculum, allows students to become independent and critical thinkers as well as lifelong learners. We give our students the opportunity to learn a range of skills and techniques that will stay with them throughout their lives, supporting them to think for themselves, to analyse situations and to always question their findings.  

One of the keys to our success is Core Visible Thinking Routines, which are sometimes referred to as VTRs. VTRs are tools that the administrators and educators at OWIS use to help students become more aware of their thinking processes and to improve those processes ultimately.

The Core Visible Thinking Routines at OWIS

What Makes You Say That? — This approach requires OWIS students to describe what they know about a particular topic, but then back up that knowledge with evidence. Often they will have to pull knowledge from a range of areas such as previous experiences, what they have read and what they have learnt through experience. It is important for them to fully understand the context of why they say what they do and to have the background knowledge to support this. It makes them analyse their knowledge and ensure that they have a true understanding of the topic with clear and reliable evidence. 

Think Puzzle Explore — In this activity, students must describe what they think they know about a particular topic. Then, they need to identify the questions that they have about the topic. Finally, they must determine how they can learn more about the topic. This teaches them strong analytical and problem solving skills. It also allows them to break their ideas down and analyse the outcomes. It teaches them to seek knowledge from a range of sources in order to develop their learning.

Think Pair Share — This routine requires students to spend a few moments considering the provided topic and then work with another student to come up with ways to learn more about the topic. Not only does this help to enhance their knowledge but it also teaches them to communicate with others. It shows them that everyone has different ideas, strengths and opinions, and by working together they can better their collective understanding of a topic. They may also be paired with students who they may not always work with, so this gives them the opportunity to learn about other members of their peer group.   

Circle of View Points — In this exercise, students come to understand that there can be different viewpoints on a particular topic and then choose a particular viewpoint. They then provide information about the topic from the specific viewpoint they have chosen. Using that same viewpoint, they explore and ask questions about the topic. This helps to give them a 360 view of the world and to better understand that different views to theirs are not always wrong and indeed may not be right. It teaches them to take on-board a range of thoughts and ideas from a voice apart from their own, and then analyse them all to come to the best outcome. 

I Used to Think — In this routine, teachers should provide students with a current event or topic to consider. They need to discuss what they used to think about that topic, but then provide evidence-based reasoning for their new opinion on it. This is something that can sometimes prove difficult as often we have strong opinions on certain things. Looking at evidence behind new ideas, or looking at how knowledge has developed from an original source, is a skill that is essential throughout life. This is a particularly prominent concept in the field of research, and in a world that is changing rapidly, these skills are extremely important.

See Think Wonder — With this routine, students must consider a visual idea or topic. They need to describe what they see and what they think about it. Then, they need to consider what they are curious about after viewing the image. This experience encourages students to look at an idea from all angles. It makes them break down what they are seeing, look deeper and sometimes revisit again. It helps them understand that everything is not always what it may seem on the outside and that often there are questions that could be or should be answered.

We believe that education is a partnership between the student, the school and the parents. With this in mind, we want all members of our community to be aware of the Core Visible Thinking Routines that we have implemented into our curriculum, across all subject areas. This helps parents to become more involved in their child's education, and it allows students to better connect with their parents when discussing the content being learnt in the classroom. It gives ideas and skills to children and parents and also gives a starting point for discussion around various topics. It may be that children see an experience or topic from a different angle to their parents, so these thinking routines provide tools to bring these ideas together.

For more information about how OWIS helps students develop critical thinking skills, contact us today to set up a campus tour.

About Author

Erin Smith

Senior Coordinator - Primary, PYP Senior Coordinator

Erin originally hails from Australia where she earned both her Bachelor’s Degree in Primary Teaching/Arts and a Master’s Degree in Educational Studies (major in ICT/Digital Learning) from the University of Newcastle. Erin has been in primary education for more than 10 years with experience in international schools. Prior to moving to Singapore, Erin taught students in Japan, Germany and Australia.

With extensive experience in the Primary Years Programme and as an Enrichments Specialist, Erin is thrilled to be able to share her knowledge and expertise with students at the OWIS Nanyang Campus. Erin engages her students in learning experiences that challenge thinking, heighten curiosity, and open their minds. Erin strives to help each individual student create a positive mindset, fostering their ability to become lifelong learners and incredible human beings.

Traveling is one of Erin’s favourite pastimes. Her travels have taken Erin throughout Europe, America, and Asia. Erin also enjoys physical fitness, keeping up with the latest in technology, reading fantasy novels, playing with her cat Charlie. Time with family is also important to Erin. She and her engineer husband are proud parents to two children.

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