A Note to the Teacher: Making Thinking Visible in the Science Classroom

In the science classroom, we want to make our students’ thoughts visible. “Making Thinking Visible” by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison is a great resource to utilize within your classroom. Throughout the book, you will find ways that promote engagement, understanding, and independence for all your students.

Image obtained from https://medium.com/@abhishekdesai/making-thinking-visible-in-an-organisation-d8f55f73a962

Making thinking visible (MTV) in the science classroom is vital because it allows students to unpack their thinking in ways they may not have thought about before.

“To develop understanding of a subject area, one has to engage in authentic intellectual activity. That means solving problems, making decisions, and developing new understanding using the methods and tools of the discipline.”

– Ritchhart, Church, & Morrison

Three Specific MTV Strategies to Utilize in a Science Classroom

1. Chalk Talk

  • Chalk Talk is a great way for students to have a silent conversation. Oftentimes, we find that there is not enough time in a class period for each student to share all their thoughts and ideas. Utilizing the MTV strategy, Chalk Talk, allows for each student to elaborate in their own way and build on their understanding. Students not only respond to the prompt, but they have the opportunity to respond to one another as well.

STEPS: Set up->Present the prompt->Circulate->Facilitate->Share the thinking

  • Check at the video below for how to use Chalk Talk in your classroom efficiently!

2. The Micro Lab Protocol

  • The Micro Lab Protocol is a fun strategy to use for students to first reflect individually then in triads. Utilizing this strategy makes sure all student voices are heard prior to the focused discussion on the topic. The Micro Lab Protocol ensures equal participation from students and ample time for reflection.

STEPS: Set up->Share->Call for silence->Do rounds 2&3->Commence discussion->Share the thinking

  • Check out the reference sheet below for an idea how you would incorporate The Micro Lab Protocol in your classroom!

3. Step Inside

  • Stepping Inside is a strategy where students embody a character or object within the event or situation you are analyzing. The goal is for students to take on their specific point of view. This strategy allows for a deeper understanding for the students as well as more of an appreciation for the event or situation.

STEPS: Set up->Ask, “What can this person or thing see, observe, or notice?” ->Ask, “What might the person or thing know about, understand, or believe?”->Ask, “What might the person or thing care about?”->Ask, “What might this person or thing wonder about or question?”->Share the thinking

  • Check out this link to TeachersPayTeachers for a free Step Inside worksheet! https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Step-Inside-CCSS-RL33-2501140

Links to similar blogs:

  • https://www.ronritchhart.com/blog
  • https://www.inquisitive.com/blog/2019/03/27/visible-thinking/
  • http://langwitches.org/blog/2013/11/22/visible-thinking-routines-for-blogging/


  1. Hi Brooklyn! That was an awesome post! The videos and images that you used throughout were very helpful and made the information very clear! In terms of using The Micro Lab Protocol, how would you apply this technique to a science classroom? Also what stage (in the 5 E’s learning cycle) do you think this strategy best fits?

    • Hi, Colleen! Thank you for taking the time to read my blog! To address your first question, I would apply this technique to a science classroom by possibly when discussing the different trends on the periodic table. Each student will be designated a time where they can share their knowledge on each trend within their small group and once all groups are finished we will share our thoughts collectively as a class! To address your second question, I believe this best fits in the Explore stage, but can be flexible based on the content being discussed.

Leave a Reply

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