How to use MTV in your classroom: “Music Television” makes a comeback… Wait…

Hello future science teachers! Ever wonder if you’re not eliciting your students to think critically, constructively, or independently. Have you considered using an MTV approach in your classroom? No it’s not the music network, but the methods of Making Thinking Visible (MTV). Through these, you can understand what your students are thinking. Here are three strategies you can use in your classroom to help start real discussions and understand student thought processes!

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Three Strategies used in a science classroom

It is crucial to understand what you’re students are thinking. You can correct misconceptions, celebrate extra miles, and even help meet them halfway in a topic they somewhat understand by using MTV strategies.

1. See, Think, Wonder (STW)

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One of the most self explanatory methods. See think wonder sets up your students to say or write down what they witness. They then reflect and jot down their thoughts on what they saw. Finally, they pose questions about what they’re curious about after the fact. I would use this as a entry assessment for a concept that builds up on a previous topic. For instance, If I were introducing covalent bonding after Ionic bonding, I may pose this activity to get them thinking of the differences and why those differences might exist.

2. Chalk Talk

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Chalk talk always reminds me of a silent auction, but with ideas. A chalkboard or posters are scattered throughout the room with a main idea on the center of the sheet. Students write what they think about the topic and can respond to other responses. It’s important to remember that this is a silent activity in order to give every student the proper thinking space. I’ve found these super helpful in starting a dialogue about a pertinent issue. I think this could be useful in any scientific classroom when some advancement in technology is controversial. You could have a chalk talk about artificial intelligence and where the progression should stop, for example.

3. Circle of Viewpoints

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Circle of viewpoints, in a nutshell, is where you have an issue or topics, and you hand out different students a different perspective. It encourages the student to embody the position they were assigned through acting and asking questions from someone who is outside maybe their own perspective on the issue. It gets the students talking as well and developing their debate skills without talking things personally. In a classroom you could make it light and give each person the “perspective” of an ion in solution and intrigue them with what that ion wants to achieve. Or, you could get a little deeper, and discuss issues in how science affects living conditions and you could give perspectives of: a low-socio citizen, wild animals, plants, or maybe a wealthy business, for example in order to show the students how complex some arguments can get and that there’s always another side.

Why It’s all important:

In the words of Ritchhart: “Often a teacher will tell students what is important to know and then have students practice that skill or knowledge. In the end, little thinking is happening in these classrooms! Many classrooms bustle with activity, and a teacher might play Jeopardy rather than provide a worksheet to review for a test, but the thinking necessary to turn all of the activity into understanding is often left to chance. For students to develop understanding, they must engage in the actual intellectual work needed to understand the tools and methods of that discipline.”

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Also in the words of Ritchhart, the thinking skills in order to develop understanding are as follows:

“1. Observing closely and describing what’s there

2. Building explanations and interpretations

3. Reasoning with evidence

4. Making connections

5. Considering different viewpoints and perspectives

6. Capturing the heart and forming conclusions

7. Wondering and asking questions

8. Uncovering complexity and going below the surface of things” (

I find these fractals resonate with why I think it’s critical to using MTV strategies. With the authors invested to producing those outcomes and the linearity of the paths from those styles of thinking to understanding is comforting. I think these strategies are crucial because they have deep roots in wanting the students to articulate the world and develop understanding as content, what more could a science teacher ask for?


  1. I agree that “see, think, wonder” would be a great strategy to introduce a topic. I could also see it being used when learning other topics that kids may have heard of, but may not know much about. There are plenty of these examples in biology, but I’m worried some chemistry topics will leave kids with blank stares if they have never heard of the topic being discussed.

    • Yeah you have a good point here! I Definitely would only use it on concepts that build off of previous ones. Thank you for your comments though, I’ll definitely think critically as to whether or not to use this strategy on a given concept or not though!

  2. Wyatt,

    I love the Circle of Viewpoints strategy! I’ve never heard of it before and I think it’d be a wonderful way to have students take different positions and perspectives on issues they have a bias on. It not only challenges them, but gets them thinking! MTV strategies really are crucial for students to articulate and develop understanding. Which one of these strategies would YOU most likely use in your classroom?


    • Thanks Michael, I only it in depth as it was my assigned MTV strategy! I like see think wonder for maybe after a proposed video to start a lesson. I love circle of viewpoints but it doesn’t often coincide with a Chemistry classroom.

  3. Hello Wyatt,
    Great post! I don’t know about you, but I have learned so much from this class. These strategies are easy and can easily be implemented in the classroom. I like the first two the best. Chalk talks are always nice to allow students who do not speak up to get a chance to share their ideas. I have this problem with lecturing when I teach. I have a motor mouth and can’t stop talking. After learning these strategies, I have a feeling that implementing them into my classroom could save me a lot of talking and allow me to really understand what the kids know. Before reading this book, I had no idea of what it was like to be an actual science teacher. I was confused and unaware that it didn’t mean talking the entire time. These strategies will help me a lot in my (hopeful) future career as a teacher. Great post! I like how you summarize at the end with points that he made in his book. I also like how you describe in detail how these things could relate to chemistry. Great job! Loved reading your post!

    Delaina 🙂

    • Delaina
      Thank you for comments once again! I also really love the third: Circle of viewpoints. I think it can get deeper than the other two, personally. Chalk talks can get in depth but also personal and people can get shut down. If you preface circle of viewpoints with the viewpoints explicitly outside of the individuals arguing it, no one is bound to take offense to arguments. I hope this makes sense! I too have loved learning these strategies, great book!

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