I’m Ashton Kutcher and You’re on Pranked (MTV)

Now, I know what you’re all thinking, but MTV isn’t the music television channel full of crazy reality shows, it’s actually the title of a book called Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchhart. MTV breaks down different strategies of making learning come to life in the classroom. The strategies enforce students to make what they are thinking visible and also allows for teachers to get a sense of what their students are learning and discovering.

Here, I am going to introduce 3 strategies present in MTV that you could use in your own classroom!

Zoom In

Zoom In is a strategy that has a piece of a picture and students are asked to hypothesize what the rest of the photo is. As the activity goes on, more of the picture is revealed and students can change their ideas based on new information given. This is a great activity to get students thinking and using evidence to create claims but also shows them that it’s okay if their ideas change. This can be done individually, in groups or as a whole class. 

How would I use it?

  • In an Earth science class, I would start with a picture of a landform and ask students to figure out what it might be, it’s location, how it got there, etc. all based on what they see each round.
  • At the end, I would ask students to reflect on the process, explaining what different evidence led them to change their minds.
  • Students love the aspect of mystery that this would keep them engaged and thinking, while also working in teams to collaborate ideas.

Chalk Talk

Chalk Talk is a strategy that has students have a “conversation” without having to speak. The teacher will provide several pieces of paper around the room with different questions (or the same one) and students are asked to circulate and pose their ideas by writing comments, questions, and responding to other’s ideas. This is great for students who are introverted and allows for the activity to be exploratory.

How would I use it?

  • I would use it in the biology classroom for a controversial topic like climate change or designer babies. I would have the question(s) around the room and have students go around and comment on each.
  • Once students posed their ideas, I would bring it back and ask students to share things on the different pieces of paper that surprised or intrigued them, or questions they had about different ideas.
  • The conversation would be open and a great opportunity for students to compare and contrast ideas.

Here’s a video that describes chalk talk more in depth:

CSI: Color, Symbol, Image

CSI is a strategy that allows students to organize and synthesize ideas in a non-traditional format. Students are given different ideas (individually or in groups) and are asked to think of a color, symbol and image to describe that idea. This brings ideas to life by giving them visual characteristics to help make connections. Students are asked to think metaphorically and this is great for ELL students to solidify ideas.

Image result for colorsHow would I use it?

  • In the science classroom, I would focus on different forms of energy (kinetic, thermal, potential) and ask students to individually think of a color, symbol and image to represent each.
  • This would have students solidify the different forms of energy and help them better understand something we cannot see.

MTV strategies are CRUCIAL for seeing what students are thinking, the processes they are going through to solidify ideas and thinking critically. I recommend trying some of the strategies in your classroom!



  1. Kacey,

    Gr8 post! I really like your example you gave for CSI – I’m also thinking it would cool for them to do the different forms of renewable or alternative energy if that’s something you’d cover. I think the Zoom In activity really reflects the scientific process of gathering information and forming a sound conclusion really well. I think a lot of these activities do! Chalk Talk works awesome with controversial topics; does it worry you that it may go sour? Do you think that it could sometimes cause conflict?

    • Chris,
      Personally, I think the controversy that some topics can hold can deepen student’s learning and understanding and helps them learn how to create arguments with different evidence. Yes, there is always a concern that it could go bad, but I think that if the activity is constructed in a positive learning environment, students will be able to be respectful of each other’s opinions. I think that the severity of the topic would also depend on the class and age group because usually, seniors in high school are more mature than middle school students (as I’ve seen in the field). Either way, I feel like conflict could always become a learning experience if it’s not too big.

  2. Kacey,

    The Zoom-In strategy is a really interesting strategy that I really wish more teachers could incorporate into their teaching! I really like your idea about using it for the earth sciences and have students, not only show their thinking, but explain it too! I’ve seen Chalk Talk show up on a lot of different posts (including my own), how would you use it most effectively to ensure your students are benefitting from it?


    • Michael,
      I would use chalk talk for more controversial topics so that students can feel more free to express their ideas. I also think that by having students talk about things they found interesting (even if it’s not their own comment) can be a great strategy for students to develop critical thinking and formation of arguments with evidence. When students don’t feel the pressure to share out loud all the time, sometimes great breakthroughs that the whole class can benefit from arise!

  3. Kasey, this is an awesome blog post! I really liked the way you would use the Zoom in strategy in your classroom. I also like how you would use the chalk talk to discuss controversial issues. This gives students to give their opinion and learn the truth about each topic. I also like all the images you used throughout the blog. The video is also very informational. For which part of the learning cycle would you use the Chalk Talk strategy in? Once again overall great post!

    • Bailey,
      Thank you! I would use a chalk talk, most likely, in the elaborate phase because it gives students the opportunity to use what they’ve learned to talk about different topics and form strong arguments. I could also use it in the explore, prior to a demo or lesson, to see what the students already know or think that they know. This could be a great strategy to find common misconceptions and address those to give the students correct information that they can learn from!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.