The Power of Making Thinking Visible with Ron Ritchhart

Ron Ritchhart Learn with the Expert

With the changes we have experienced throughout the past few years, the use of thinking routines in schools around the world has become more important than ever. But, that doesn’t mean all educators are implementing them effectively.

In this Learn with the Expert webinar, world-renowned educator, researcher, and author of Making Thinking Visible Ron Ritchhart explores how teachers can best build a culture of thinking in their classrooms, nurture students as powerful thinkers and learners, and make thinking visible. In this webinar, educators learn how to establish a plan to use these practices to maximize the effect and ultimately lead students to success.

Teachers and students in class

What are Thinking Routines?

By bare bones definition, thinking routines are a sequence of steps and questions used to scaffold and support student thinking in order to deepen their exploration and analysis of a topic. Ritchhart shares that by asking questions like what am I wanting students to understand?, what kinds of thinking are needed to engage with and make sense of this content?, and which routines might best support and scaffold students’ thinking?, educators are able to not only deepen their students’ understanding and thinking about the topic at hand, but also teach their students how to build the habit of thinking and learning more deeply in every situation.

What are the Benefits of Thinking Routines?

Making thinking visible isn’t as simple as it sounds. As a goal and set of practices, it has its challenges for both teachers and students—and only an effort-based partnership between the two will allow this practice to become successful. Ritchhart points out that when used powerfully, thinking routines not only provide teachers with a set of practices to engage students, but help advance a broader goal to create classrooms where students’ thinking is visible, valued, and actively promoted, leading to a more complete understanding of the material.

In order to build understanding in students, educators must encourage students to see what is being explored, ask questions, and make connections. Once these steps are established and mastered, students are then able to consider different viewpoints, build explanations and interpretations, and reason with evidence. What follows is the students’ ability to then think critically to uncover complexity and form overarching conclusions. These steps towards understanding are core aspects of thinking routines.

How Can I Build a Thinking Routine?

All educators can build thinking routines in their classrooms! Thinking routines fall at the center intersection of the following:

  • Documentation, or capturing processes and steps to lighten the cognitive load. Educators should ask questions like what steps are important to capture? and what do we want to be able to refer back to?

  • Listening, or showcasing that you as an educator validates and values what is being shared by your students. It is important to lead with curiosity in order to show your students that sharing incorrect answers is not bad; instead this passing of information is a great way to know that someone doesn’t understand what is being taught. Educators should ask questions like what am I curious to understand about my students’ process and thinking? and where will I need to stay silent so I can listen for the learning

  • Questioning, or furthering your students’ learning by encouraging them to take the next step to explain, elaborate, draw conclusions, and form analysis. Educators should ask questions such as what key questions are embedded in the routine? and what student-generated questions are emerging from our learning?

Making Thinking Visible

By showing their students they are interested in their responses, asking questions that encourage open learning, and capturing feedback and thinking in real time through notes or recordings, educators can build effective thinking routines within their classrooms that lead to more clear understanding and more fully developed young brains. Establishing a plan to use these thinking routine practices will ultimately lead students to success. Let’s start making thinking visible.


Our recent Learn with the Expert session featured Ron Ritchhart, world-renowned educator, researcher, and author who served as a Senior Research Associate and Principal Investigator at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for over 25 years. His research focused on understanding how to develop, nurture, and sustain “cultures of thinking” for both students and teachers, which is what he shares with us in this webinar.

Ron Ritchhart Learn with the Expert


Learn with the Expert: The Power of Making Thinking Visible with Ron Ritchhart

Ron Ritchhart discusses how we can nurture thinking in the classroom, and make it visible for students & educators!

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