Favourite Activity: See-Think-Wonder

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: http://eustudents.blogspot.gr/2013/02/why-was-eu-created.html

I hope you find it worth experimenting.

Average: 5 (2 votes)

Submitted by chrysapap on Tue, 01/14/2014 - 21:23

In reply to by IntuitionTutor


Thank you! I have also been fascinated by the great potentials of using the Visible Thinking Programme Routines in the efl context.

Submitted by dianall on Wed, 01/20/2021 - 10:44


Iwas just wondering... is there a follow-up in which the students questions are answered? If this is possible, because with works of art sometimes only the artists themselves can give some answers... thanks

Hi dianall,

I think if you were dealing with a piece of art, you could ask students to research it if they wanted to find out more, but the focus here is on getting the students actively engaged and asking questions, rather than finding the "right" answers (with a piece of art they probably aren't any!)  In the example in the link, students look at a picture of a bombed building in the second world war. The idea was to use that historical image to introduce the topic of how and why the European Union was formed by getting students to ask questions and become interested in the topic.

Hope that you can use this technique in your classes,

TE Team

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