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Favourite Activity: See-Think-Wonder

Average: 4 (9 votes)

My favourite activity is the See-Think-Wonder thinking routine from the Visible Thinking Programme (Harvard University-Project Zero).

My favourite activity is the See-Think-Wonder thinking routine from the Visible Thinking Programme (Harvard University-Project Zero).

Thinking because it promotes students’ critical thinking skills and dispositions

Routine because of the systematic, flexible and simple nature of the activity

It works well with all ages and nearly all levels.

When: I use it when I want to stimulate students’ curiosity, encourage them to think carefully about why something looks the way it is, make predictions, careful observations, and thoughtful interpretations.

Where: Everywhere.

At the beginning of a new unit to motivate student interest

During the unit to connect with the topic

At the end of the unit to encourage further thinking and ideas

At any given moment with any theme or project

Skills: Observing, developing metaphoric thinking, making predictions, writing, speaking, listening to other students’ ideas

How long: 15-20 minutes.

What & How: Use a work of art (painting, photography, book cover, image, artifact) relevant to the theme at stake and ask students three key questions:

What do you see?

What do you think about it? / What are your thoughts?

What does it make you wonder?

Students can work individually, in pairs or in groups depending on the multitude of ideas you want to generate. They can first write their responses on paper before sharing them with the rest of the class or just try the routine in their heads.

How to make students’ thinking visible: keep a visible record of their responses to the three stems. Construction papers on the walls where students’ responses are written down, post-it notes, slips of paper, or any other sort of visible documentation you can think of, so that a class chart of observations, interpretations and wonderings are listed for all to see and maybe return to during the course of study.

Tips: The routine works best when students answer by using all three stems at the same time, “I see…, I think…, I wonder…” It’s OK if students begin by using one stem at a time, i.e. “I see…” You just need to scaffold each response with a follow up question for the next stem. Once students get familiar with the routine they will be using all three stems together.



it offers the possibility to use the English language meaningfully

it generates greater motivation for learning

of how works of art make us think

of what works of art make us think about

there is a shift in classroom culture towards a community of enthusiastically engaged thinkers and learners

Below is an example of the activity in action. You can view the project here:

I hope you find it worth experimenting.