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Visible Thinking Routine of the Week: See-Think-Wonder

See Think Wonder is a thinking routine that focuses on the importance of observation, interpretation and stimulating curiosity. It is an excellent thinking routine to use when you are new to Visible Thinking and a good one to use at the beginning of a guided tour or museum programme.
The 3 stages of the routine structure the conversation for both the facilitator and the participant. As a result, everyone knows what to expect.
The first question ‘What do you see?‘ gives participants the chance to fully observe and describe the object or artwork in question. Focusing on close looking followed up by careful describing allows participants to see the “whole picture” and to notice parts they would ordinarily have missed.
The second question ‘What do you think is going on?‘ usually follows on naturally once the object has been fully described and ask the group for their interpretations of what they think is happening in the artwork or artefact.
The final question ‘What are you wondering about?‘ allows participants to ask any additional questions or thoughts. These “wonderings” can also open up new lines of inquiry and allow the guide or educator time to share some specialised knowledge in response to the group’s questions.
Variations: Feel-Think-Wonder, Wonder-See-Think, See-Wonder-Connect and many more!

Why is See-Think-Wonder the best routine to use when you’re new to using thinking routines?

  • It is straightforward and naturally leads towards open-ended inquiry
  • It can be used with all age groups & all levels
  • It can be used with a huge variety of materials such as artworks, photographs, documents, book covers, newspaper articles, museum objects, the natural world etc.
  • Works well individually, in small groups and with whole group sharing.
  • Can be used at the beginning of a programme or (virtual) session due to its simplicity.
  • It’s easy to set up and use – there aren’t any complicated instructions or set-up instructions. Some thinking routines require a little extra thought about how they can be applied in the museum or heritage environment. See-Think-Wonder is pretty much good to go as it is.
  • By separating the two questions, What do you see? and What do you think is going on?, the routine helps participants distinguish between observations and interpretations. This helps to avoid hasty interpretations. By encouraging individuals to wonder and ask questions, the routine stimulates curiosity and helps students reach for new connections.
  • When used repeatedly, participants begin to use in other contexts. I have had school children teaching See-Think-Wonder to their parents after a museum visit where we explored several objects using the routine. I’ve also had a group of IT managers using See-Think-Wonder during a breakfast meeting to structure their thoughts, inspired by the previous evening’s art museum workshop using thinking routines – See-Think-Wonder being the most versatile and memorable!
  • It never, EVER fails in any situation, circumstances or environment. Trust the routine.

The Ultimate Thinking Routine List

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