Blog DH,  College Composition,  Multimodal,  Professional Development,  Student Academic Success

Making Learning Visible Reflection and Resources

For our team’s professional learning this summer, we read The Power of Making Learning Visible by Ron Ritchart and Mark Church, published in 2020. I liked the structure of the book, with each activity explained in a consistent and clear manner and with specific classroom examples. Although many of the examples were from K-12 classrooms, some were from college-level, and the activities could be easily adapted to fit college-level courses.

Understanding map graphic, including Considering Different Viewpoints, Reason with Evidence, Make Connections, Build Explanations and more
Understanding Map from Making Thinking Visible, 2020

When teaching English Composition, I incorporate many elements to make thinking visible, although none that matched exactly as outlined in the book. “Peeling the Fruit” (p. 107) and “3 Ys” ( p. 182) follow similar steps to those we employ for analysis based on annotation practice. The “Give One, Get One” activity (p. 42) was similar to a speed thesis share that I do in English Comp, and the “Ladder of Feedback” (p. 56) functioned as peer review except it was shared orally as opposed to my typical Google Docs format. I think I would try those new formats in the future as well as “Making Meaning” (p. 79) in a writing course. In English Composition, the use of ePortfolio in the course provides a structure for students to break their thinking down and demonstrate their proficiency in a similar way, such as in annotation activities (click here to see a student sample) and peer review work. Since the course learning objectives are largely based on the development of these skills, the ePortfolio work incorporated artifacts that make thinking visible as well as developing the meta-awareness of these skills through the use of reflection. At the end of the semester, students are required to construct reflections and incorporate artifacts to demonstrate their growth for each learning objective, essentially making their learning visible.

In considering applying new techniques described in connection with my supervisory DigiSpace position, I expect to try a few activities this fall. I intend to use Share-Ask-Ideas-Learned (SAIL, p. 67) for brainstorming digital project ideas for the DigiSpace consultants. This structure will become part of their professional development as I will have several new consultants who each need to design and create a digital project for their ePortfolio. One of the challenges for consultants is that unlike in a classroom, we do not have a peer review-style process for helping them brainstorm and develop their digital projects. Since they are at different proficiency levels and expertise, I am often the only one to offer feedback as they select their digital medium and design their project. They share their projects with each other, but that is usually at the end of the process, and although they include a reflection on the process itself, I think we can do better. In an effort to create a structure that supports this work, I have created the fall schedules to pair a new consultant with a veteran consultant once a week. I also plan to build in some time for them to discuss their digital project work with each other in addition to them sharing strategies and expertise related to their digital skills.

In the instruction that I do in my position, I expect to try “+1 Routine” (p. 86) with the English Comp and Nursing students when I am invited as a guest lecturer for an ePortfolio introduction and workshop. At the beginning of my class visits, I usually take 15-20 minutes to give an overview of the purpose of ePortfolio and provide some context about its relevance in their course or program. I then show a few student ePortfolios from our collection. This activity functions similarly to “Be Sure To” (p. 166), except not to the same depth, and with the purpose of introducing key terms (such as theme, header, post, page) that will be relevant to the workshop part of the class visit. I think the +1 activity would help to have students engaging more during this part of the class because it provides an opportunity to synthesize key ideas and offers the possibility to add questions, not just statements, about the material I have presented. This will allow me to check for understanding and correct any misunderstandings in that class time since I will not see them again for a semester (or more). The consultants and I can address questions that we encounter while circulating during the workshop time.

For educators considering using the Making Learning Visible materials, this video gives an overview of “Thinking Dispositions,” produced by Project Zero, a Harvard Graduate School of Education project that preceded the Making Thinking Visible project.

Comments Off on Making Learning Visible Reflection and Resources