One thing I’m always on the look-out for is evidence of student thinking. I love to walk into a classroom or down a corridor and be able to get a sense of what the students are thinking about and working on even when they’re not there to explain it to me. The sort of displays that achieve this are often not the beautifully perfect, mounted, manicured displays that we have all been forced to do at various stages in our careers – the kind of displays that take so long to put up that we leave them up for months – long after they are relevant! They are usually messy, imperfect, full of errors and would give one or two heads of school I have worked for nightmares!
However, when teachers use their walls and windows to make thinking visible, they immerse their students in thought, they affirm and give value to the students’ thoughts and they map out where students have come from and where they head to. It is very powerful to see students walking up to a display board to remind themselves of something they put on a post-it note two weeks previously, or pulling a tag off the wall to help them write a reflection or to assess how much their conceptual understanding has developed in a unit of inquiry.
Here’s a slideshow of some examples of making thinking visible that I saw today: