Episode 27 Visible Thinking with Holly Clark

Dan interviews Holly Clark to discuss how you can use visible thinking routines to help your students develop their skills required to become lifelong learners. 

You can find out more about Holly Clark and her resources by clicking the image below.

Creative Commons License
Visible Thinking with Holly Clark is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Produced and Transcribed by Brad Keyes at Podgee.io.


Dan: [00:00:00] Hi everyone, and welcome to the effective teaching podcast. Today. I have my very good friend Holly Clark with me. So Holly, can you tell all of the listeners here in Australia a bit about yourself, who you are, and what you are currently doing over there in America?

Introducing Holly Clark?

Holly Clark: [00:00:15] So I am a lifelong teacher, but recently I have really started to travel around the world. I’ve been to Sydney quite a few times. I think something like, five to 10 I don’t know. But talking about infused classroom and how we can infuse classroom with really strong pedagogy, and then we, we look at pedagogy and then how we can use the tools of technology to amplify that. And so really looking at students in our classrooms.

[00:00:42] So right now that’s what I’ve been traveling around helping schools do. And it’s been so much fun because the tweaks we’re making are working and that’s the best part of it all. 

Dan: [00:00:52] That’s always good to have what you say actually work, isn’t it? When you’re giving advice to people, particularly when you’re traveling out of various contexts, I think it’s really difficult because you know, I know as a teacher that you want to make sure that everything that you do is catered for your students.

[00:01:06] And if you have someone you know from from America, for example, coming to Sydney to provide some advice. They used to be contextualized and relevant for us here still, and generally, a lot of things are in education, but, it’s good to hear that it’s working everywhere.

Creating Lifelong Learners

[00:01:20] So can you just tell me a little bit, Holly, about what strategies you see really helped you to create lifelong learners in our classrooms? 

Holly Clark: [00:01:28] So it kind of goes along with the tweak that I’m talking about. So one of the things that I’ve noticed that works is when we try to get students to make their thinking visible.

[00:01:38] And when they do that, a lot of times I’m asking them to speak and articulate their thinking. So for example, let’s say they’re learning something in math, they might go on to flip grade and really talk about how they went through the process to solve that math problem, or maybe they’re using, and if we’re infusing in this instance, maybe they’re using Seesaw or some tool that allows them to talk through their learning process and how this affects lifelong learning, in my opinion, is now we’re letting kids talk and they’re becoming more articulate, and these are the same kind of skills they’re going to need in a job interview.

[00:02:13] So often in schools we do a lot of writing a lot of things that are based around pencil and paper sometimes, and we don’t give kids that opportunity to become articulate and that’s what they’re going to need to sell something, to get that job, to do the things that they need to do, to be really lifelong, successful, and also understand themselves as learners and how they learn so that they can apply that when they want to become the lifelong learner and understand their own curiosity and how it is that they can quench that curiosity. 

[00:02:51] As an example. I’m just going to use my own life. I’ve learned later in life that as I need to listen to books. I can’t read them. I don’t have the time to be walking and reading, and I’m traveling through airports. So if I could listen to books, I get so much more accomplished. So that’s like a lifelong learning skill that I would like to develop in kids. Like knowing who you are as a learner, knowing that you need audio, knowing what works best and when we allow them to talk and kind of think through their, their learning process, they know that.

Dan: [00:03:24] Yeah. I find that whole, it’s almost like reflective practice really for them recently, as I start to think back about what works for them as they are going through and working out this problem and how they worked out the problem, or maybe they didn’t work it out and where they actually got stuck and all those types of things, and then when we get that information, that’s fantastic for them to be able to adjust what we’re doing to help our students with that next step. I actually think my previous podcast at this one was actually all about formative assessment in the classroom. And so you mentioned a few ways there that I actually think I mentioned in my recent one about Flipgrid and Seesaw. They’ve been just so great for really getting to see what’s going on in our students’ brains, and it’s, yeah, I’m just sick of having, you know, a Google form quiz, for example, as your formative assessment. I think we can just have much better than that kind of stuff. 

Holly Clark: [00:04:11] Google forms are good, but then you’re not making students like you’re making it, thinking to their thinking visible to yourself, maybe to you as the teacher.

[00:04:19] But there’s one other step that we forget there. And that’s, allowing students to see each other’s work. And when they can see each other’s work, like in flipgrid, they can go, huh, that was interesting. You responded a different way than I would have. And in that, when they get to hear from other kids, they go into this state of thinking about thinking or metacognition, and so that’s really strong too, and I think teachers forget that.

Dan: [00:04:41] Yeah. Yeah, definitely. 

[00:04:46] We often like to see ourselves as the ones who are the ones who need to do the teaching the whole time, but students can do a lot of learning from each other. Can you tell me then, why do you think that this whole, I’ll talk about it as a, as a reflective process, but although you use, that’s good. Yeah. 

Why is Visible Thinking Important

[00:05:01] Do you think this is such a good strategy for teachers to use on a regular basis? 

Holly Clark: [00:05:07] So like this reflective practice or making thinking visible is so important to use on a regular basis. Because, for example, I was just yesterday in Oklahoma and we were doing some stuff where I was helping a teacher make that tweak to make thinking visible in the classroom when the kids were speaking on Seesaw about this poem, I’m called Invictus. And when we did it, they weren’t that articulate yet, like the things that they said about Invictus words really deep in that, and I told her this is because they’re not getting the opportunity to really articulate their learning. And I said, do this once a week for two months and you will drop to your knees in two months.

[00:05:44] The difference between what we’re getting right now and what you will get two months from now in their ability to articulate their thoughts, their learning, their ideas. So, It’s really important that we give them that space to do that so that we can know who they are as learners know when they know something, no one they don’t.

[00:06:03] And we can change our instruction in real time, like right now, to meet their needs, differentiate, do all those good pedagogical structures that multiple choice questions often don’t allow us to do. Because when I was teaching, I would do the multiple choice question at the end of a unit and I’d be like, Oh, they didn’t get that. Oh, well, I’m moving on. We’re done with the book, you know. 

How is Visible Thinking making Lifelong Learners?

Dan: [00:06:26] So Holly then with this whole visible thinking and reflecting on their learning, how do you see this strategy creating lifelong learners? You talked there about how it’s really important for the teachers, for us to adjust our practice, but then how does that help the students then to develop the skills they need for learning once they leave school?

Holly Clark: [00:06:45] So I think what it does is it allows kids to really understand themselves as learners and have that reflective process that says, you know what.

[00:06:55] I learned better with an audio book or, you know what, this particular thing that we did with Seesaw really works for me. And another kid might say, you know what? I kind of need to write it down, or I need to sketch note. And if we give them that reflective process where they are telling us about their learning, they can really understand themselves better as learners and this become more lifelong learners, which is so important. 

Dan: [00:07:17] Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I found personally, I love reading. It’s one of the things that I’m passionate about. As I read, you know, I highlight. I take notes, I scribble over stuff, and I keep my notebooks from all the stuff that I read, but lately with just life at the moment, I’ve had to kind of switch more to, like you were saying, how you’ve been using, listening to audiobooks a lot lately. I’ve, I’ve switched over to that massively in the last. Six months. And I’ve loved it because not only I can actually, I can listen to a book probably five or six times and still be getting stuff out of it.

[00:07:51] It’s like, Oh, obviously not taking notes. Really as you’re listening to an audio book, cause you’re normally listening to it as you’re moving. So I listened to them at the gym or when I’m driving around the place or like with my kids in the car or something and I found that really helpful for me cause it means I’m, I just, I hate wasting time.

I hate driving. Anywhere because I feel like im wasting time.

Holly Clark: [00:08:12] When I put on music, oh my gosh, I’m wasting time right now, and I probably have to stop that. That’s a problem. But I will say, this is a little bit of an interesting story, but my dad listened to motivational speakers in the car when I was a kid, and at the time as a kid I was like, ah, this is horrible.

[00:08:31] But I kind of think now that I’m so motivated to get stuff done because my father was listening to these things in the car I didn’t think were seeping in for me, but apparently they were. 

Dan: [00:08:43] Yeah, you are very motivational and you’re actually quite inspirational too. Cause I’ve seen you live everybody workshops.

What should Teachers be doing now and as they plan for next year?

[00:08:50]Can you then tell us, what one thing would you recommend our listeners do this week to get them started using this strategy in the classroom? And. In addition to that in Australia, we’re about to have our long summer holidays that are coming. So maybe as we prep for next year, what can our teachers in Australia be doing as they really think about their planning processes and their designing of units and stuff, and next year, what should they be doing as they do that?

Holly Clark: [00:09:15] So if I had to pick like one tool that teachers tried, I can’t, I have to say two, I think that teachers wanting to make thinking visible. I think flip grid needs to become part of people’s practice. And it sounds like you talked about that last week, last one? 

Dan: [00:09:32] I mentioned it, but didn’t talk too much about it, I just mentioned the videoing software thing that’s online. That’s pretty much all I said. 

Holly Clark: [00:09:38] Okay, so flip grid allows kids to really talk through their learning. They can do other stuff on there, but I can quickly get a check for understanding from them where they have to articulate the, you know, what they went through.

[00:09:49] Even if they’re doing a worksheet, and I’m still at that place in my teaching, I can say, stop right now and tell me what’s going on in thinking about this worksheet. So I found when I traveled around that people loved flip grid, but then I left and they were like, wait, I don’t know how to get started and I don’t know what to do.

[00:10:04] So I have made, and Australians are welcome to use this. I made a free online course about Flipgrid. It takes an hour to do, and it’s in five modules. You can just watch the module you need and your listeners can find that at bit.Ly/Flipgrid19, and you can sign up and take that and see what it’s about. And, in the first module, I explain how it gets at thinking and how I’m doing an assessment of prior knowledge and why it’s so strong. So they can look at that. And for me, I also love Seesaw as a way to infuse technology in making thinking visible and using thinking routines from Ron Richard with the book making thinking visible.

[00:10:51] And of course the Melbournian Hattie, you know? So, so there’s, you guys know about that down in Australia, but now it’s taking technology and amplifying it and make it stronger. 

[00:11:02] Yeah, definitely. I know quite a few years ago I used to use, yeah, three, two, one tickets suffers kids to find out what they learned or what they like, questions about and stuff.

[00:11:10] But these days with technology, if I’m in the classroom, Seesaw and Flipgrid are definitely my two, two of my go tos. I love, I love them. They just.. 

[00:11:19] Yeh.

Dan: [00:11:20] ..get so much more insight when a kid is talking to you. Then you do when they write it, even if it’s still that kind of same open ended question.

[00:11:27] You still get so much cause you can see them stopping and thinking and try to work out what it was, and that’s just so good.

Holly Clark: [00:11:37] And that’s called cognitive struggle and cognitive struggle as a cognitive learning theory that says that when we struggle with information, we take it with us. And when you give kids a multiple choice question, maybe on a Google form or whenever we’re not, we don’t have the struggle, the same struggle.

[00:11:54] So we want that struggle. So they’ll take it with them. 

Dan: [00:11:58] Well, thank you so much for joining me, Holly. I know you’ve been really busy. I’ve been traveling around the States at the moment, so if anyone would like to learn more from Holly, just stepped over to  teacherspd.net and find this podcast, and there’ll be links there to all of Holly staffing, including her course ad if you want to learn more about using Flipgrid.

[00:12:14] So thank you for joining us. 

Holly Clark: [00:12:16] It’s my pleasure. 

[00:12:20] Thank you.

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