Making thinking visible

Our second Learning Stream, Making Thinking Visible was delivered by Mr Stephen Catton, History Teacher.

Mr Catton’s stream was based on research completed in Harvard by a group called ‘Project Zero’ led by Ron Ritchhart and David Perkins. Thinking routines form the core of the
Visible Thinking programme. These routines work to promote the development of a student’s thinking and the classroom culture. This means that each routine should meet the following criteria:

  • Goal oriented in that it targets specific types of thinking
  • Used over and over again in the classroom
  • Consists of only a few steps
  • Easy to learn and teach
  • Easy to support when students are engaged in the routine
  • Can be used across a variety of contexts
  • Can be used by the group or by the individual

Visible Thinking is a broad and flexible framework for enriching classroom learning in the content areas and fostering students’ intellectual development at the same time.
The goal is deeper understanding of content, greater motivation, development of thinking of all learning abilities, development of attitudes towards thinking and a shift in classroom culture towards enthusiastically engaged thinkers.

It was great to hear how easy it is to take thinking to the next level in lessons, just by pitching the question in a slightly different way or a simple change in wording. I went into lessons that afternoon and put one of the techniques into practice and it really increased the impact of my questioning.

– Lucy Webber, Head of Chemistry

What are cultures of thinking?

Cultures of thinking refers to the creation of environments and experiences within the classroom that enable individual thinking which is valued, visible, active and explicit; all promoted as part of regular day-to-day learning.


Need to train pupils how to use them in order for them to be an effective teaching tool.