What did you enjoy reading the most on the Thinking Museum blog in 2020? It’s always good to reflect at the end of the year before starting a new one – and it was really interesting to see which of my blog posts were the most popular! Did you catch all of these?
Scroll through this list, and catch up on our top blogs you may have missed throughout the year. Let’s start the countdown…
10. What is Visible Thinking in the Museum?
Starting our countdown at number 10, ‘What is Visible Thinking in the Museum?’ I found out 10 years ago that many museum educators and guides were struggling to meet the demands of leading inquiry-based programmes – sometimes the training was too brief, too confusing, or just too complicated. I wanted to simplify the process and increase the engagement factor for both facilitator and audience. In 2011, I discovered the magic of Visible Thinking and have since developed ‘Visible Thinking in the Museum‘ – a method that uses thinking routines to help question formulation and structure, along with facilitation techniques, collaborative learning and museum education practices. The result is ‘inquiry made simple’. A easy-to-follow process that allows you to confidently design, lead and manage engaging inquiry-led sessions with art and artefacts. Read on to find out WHAT Visible Thinking in the Museum (VTM) is, HOW it came about and WHAT you can do with it…
Looking to get started using thinking routines in guided art discussions? Having trouble narrowing it down? Understandably – there are 90+ thinking routines to choose from..(I’ve listed them in my Ultimate Thinking Routine list which you can get here). Help is at hand. Here are 6 core thinking routines you can use with art or artefacts right now to start engaging your audience.
A surprise entry! A viewfinder is a tool that enables artists to frame or crop a particular scene to arrange their composition. It is usually a square or a rectangle made out of card or plastic through which you look at an area in more detail. On guided tours or educational programmes, viewfinders are useful to help us look closer at things (objects, artworks, buildings). They work particularly well with ‘busy’ scenes – where there is so much information to take in at once that it can sometimes feel overwhelming. This post has tips about how to use a viewfinder to look at things in more detail.
If you’ve never taught or led discussions online, you may have been a little nervous or wary of facilitating virtually with artworks or objects. Maybe you were wondering how your skills would transfer to an online environment or whether your sessions will be as effective or as engaging as in-person sessions? Whether you’re looking to start teaching online for the first time or whether you’ve already had a go (but are still unsure), here is my sound advice for confidently facilitating effective and meaningful discussions about art and objects online. This is part of a two-part series, if you’re read Part 1, go on an read Part 2 afterwards to learn about structuring your sessions, setting the scene and different teaching strategies you can use.
5. 13 Ways to Make your Online Sessions More Engaging & Interactive
This has definitely been the year of virtual experimentation. I’ve attended some fantastic interactive online sessions over the past few months and I’ve led plenty of my own. I’ve also attended some pretty dull one-way presentations and long lectures.
No matter what, you need to keep your online sessions interactive to stop participants from tuning out. You need to find a variety of ways to engage people throughout the session. When it’s done right, I firmly believe that online sessions are JUST as (and in some cases MORE) rewarding and engaging online. Here are 13 tips on how to make your sessions interactive and engaging.
4. How to Facilitate Effectively Wearing a Face Mask
Whilst for many months of 2020, most museum and heritage programming was virtual, in some countries, educators, guides and creatives returned to teaching and facilitating discussions about art and objects in-person, albeit for a short time. In many institutions and organisations (e.g. museums and heritage centres), this was only be possible behind a mask. So, how can you facilitate effectively with a face mask on? How can you still communicate clearly and create an atmosphere where everyone is happy to contribute? And what extra strategies can you employ to ensure engagement and interaction?
3. Visible Thinking Routine of the Week: See-Think-Wonder
In 2020, I started a series of ‘Thinking Routine of the Week’ and See Think Wonder was the most popular of these short guides to Visible Thinking Routines. See Think Wonder 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 programme, virtual session or tour. It focuses on the importance of observation, interpretation and stimulating curiosity.
2. Visual Thinking Strategies and Visible Thinking
This blog has been a perennial favourite since it was first published way back in 2013. In 2019, it was our top read on the Thinking Museum website. This post explains the differences and similarities between Visual Thinking Strategies and Visible Thinking – two methods that are often confused.
AND…at Number 1. A Brief Guide to Thinking Routines
A new number one for 2020. Interested in thinking routines but not sure where to start? Focusing on thinking routines is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to start working with Visible Thinking. In this brief guide, I discuss what thinking routines are, where you can use them, and how many there are.
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