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Philip's Design Narrative: Making Thinking Visible

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Philip Odeny
9 April 2015

Title: Making Thinking Visible: A PD workshop presentation


I was among a group of three teachers in the humanities department that had been enrolled by our school on ‘Making thinking visible,’ a 12 week course run by the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


The school is a leading IB World school, one among a network of schools run by a worldwide not-for-profit organisation. It attaches great importance to CPD and holds 2 hour CPD workshops and seminars every Wednesday afternoon. The humanities department of the school is the largest in terms of number of subjects offered. I was selected together with two other teachers to take the 12 week online course, and share our learning with the teaching staff on a day set aside specifically for PD.

There were several other presentations, talks and seminars to be made on the day, and my group was allocated 15-20 minutes.

 The classroom was large and well ventilated with large windows letting in light on one side, and smaller windows on the opposite wall. The room also had a traditional blackboard, next to a whiteboard, and an overhead projector. The back wall of the room had a notice board with students work, charts and pictures on it.

The intention was to sum up what we had learned in the course and present it to other teachers, who would then move on to the next room for other presentations.

 The audience was our colleagues in the teaching staff, and therefore we expected friendly and lively debate.


The objective of the presentation was to share with colleagues:

  • The thinking routines we had learned in the course,
  • Using documentation to look at students’ work and to collaborate with other teachers,
  • Using arts and artefacts to foster visible thinking and learning, and,
  • Fostering a culture of thinking among students and teachers.

Success would be measured by the response from the teachers, quality of discussions after the presentation and through how well the teachers did the activities planned for the session


  • Met with the school head who outlined our terms of reference and timelines
  • Met with the other two teachers involved and assigned roles for and duration of each activity –
  1. Introduce the session and show making thinking visible video, define ‘making thinking visible’
  2. Invite comments from the audience
  3. Ask audience to give examples – if any - of how they make theirs and their students’ thinking visible in the classroom
  4. Divide audience into groups according to their teaching subjects and ask each group to produce an example of how they would make thinking visible
  5. Plenary


The objectives were met to a large extent, going by the variety and creativity of the activities the teachers produced, to show how they use or would use thinking routines in the classroom in their subject areas.

Teachers requested another session where we would discuss how to include the said routines in their lesson plans.


Allowing the audience to participate in activities creates a sense of ownership and encourages deeper and more interesting learning, that usually also provides interesting suggestions and useful solutions to learning issues 

Extra content

Embedded Content

The Importance of thinking

The Importance of thinking

added by Philip Odeny


Tom Cheek
8:16pm 13 April 2015

Hi Philip - I enjoyed reading through your very well structured design narrative and watching the video.  I agree with all that was highlighted and I it was great that you were able to offer a 'taster' session that resulted in a demand for future session to implement.  Tom

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