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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

The Magic of Thinking Routines

I'm on holiday at the moment and completely out of my normal routine. This is not a bad thing - I love the freedom to change things up on holiday but there know there are plenty of everyday situations where having a routine is really beneficial. A routine is simply defined as a sequence of actions or pattern of behaviour that is regularly followed or rehearsed. Thinking routines are tools specifically designed to help, support and guide mental processes or thinking. They consist of short, easy to learn and teach steps that get used in a regular fashion. Having routines helps us

The Art of Virtual Art Facilitation (Part 2)

Once you’ve done you’ve got to know the tech, prepared yourself and practised with a test group as we talked about in The Art of Virtual Art Facilitation Part 1, the next step is to design and develop your session, so that it’s as interactive and engaging as an in-person art discussion would be. This is more than just presenting content or narrating a lecture. Remember that when using Visible Thinking in the Museum, the focus is on the participants rather than on the educator or teacher. The key to achieving engagement in a virtual art discussion is to design

The Art of Virtual Art Facilitation (Part 1)

If you’ve never taught or led discussions online, you might be a little nervous or wary of virtual facilitating with artworks or objects. You may be wondering how your skills will transfer to an online environment or whether your sessions will be as effective or as engaging. Here are my top tips for confidently leading and facilitating engaging discussions about art and objects online. I started teaching & facilitating online 3 years ago. I was a little nervous and extremely wary at first. I didn't think that the online teaching experience would match up to the in-person one. Since then,

Keep Wondering, Stay Curious

As we get older, we ask fewer questions. We wonder less. I’ve seen this in the past with groups in museums. The primary school children are full of questions and ideas. By secondary school, you have to work so much harder to pique their curiosity. And with adults, it’s a very similar story. They have basically stopped asking questions. We pester our parents with ‘Why?’ and ‘What if’ questions for the first few years of our lives as we try to understand how things work. We’re busy learning. We hit our questioning peak around 4 or 5. Preschool children, on

Using Thinking Routines to Formulate Better Questions

Questioning is THE skill to master when you want to create engaging discussions & dialogue around art and objects. Questions help us learn, avoid misunderstandings, gauge prior knowledge, manage, coach and build relationships. It's a big subject and there's lots to cover. I have previously talked about how to ask brilliant questions that get results and 9 mistakes to avoid when asking questions. Developing better questioning skills is something we can all work on. Sure, it takes practice and effort, but over time we can all develop the ability to formulate better questions that get good responses. Today, I'd like

Three New Thinking Routines to Try Online and Offline

Have you been using the same thinking routines for a while now? Looking for some new routines to liven things up with your art and object discussions? Sometimes it can be reassuring to stick to the same methods and techniques that you've always used. The same goes for using the same thinking routines that you've always used. At other times, particularly right now during a global pandemic when nothing is normal, I feel it's as good a time as any to do a little bit of experimentation. We know that things will change (they have already) but we're not sure

What is Visible Thinking – The Essential Guide

What is Visible Thinking (VT)? Read our essential guide and how VT can be applied within museums and heritage sites using our method 'Visible Thinking in the Museum' to facilitate meaningful experiences with art and museum objects. The Basics Visible Thinking has been developed over a number of years by researchers from Harvard's Project Zero with teachers and students. Visible Thinking is essentially a ‘broad and flexible framework for enriching learning’ by fostering deep thinking and a better understanding of content.  Central Idea The central idea of Visible Thinking is simple: making thinking visible. The vast majority of what we

Best Practices for Sharing Information on Guided Tours

By Claire Bown How & when should we share information on guided tours? How can we do this productively and strategically? In this week's post I share best practices for sharing your information and content on tour. Plus I share some extra tips on how to think about handling information in a different way.  Many of us are experts in our field and want to share that incredible knowledge with the groups we lead. However, as I said last week, we need to think about how we can use the information and knowledge we have in a more productive and strategic

Information Overload: How Much is too Much on a Guided Tour?

by Claire Bown How much information is too much on a guided tour? When does information become a burden and how much do we actually remember afterwards? Traditional lecture-style 'walk and talk ' guided tours with an expert guide are still all-to-common and a standard way of 'presenting' an historic site, a city or a museum to the public. However, participants on these style of tours will remember very little of the information they are told, less than 5% in fact. They will become exhausted (and sometimes irritated) by the non-stop flow of information. They will leave their tour none