Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Visible Thinking about Biodiversity

2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. My challenge as Coordinator of OzProjects is to create an online student project with a focus on biodiversity. How can the online Moodle environment of OzProjects engage students in a celebration of biodiversity and increase their understanding of the value of biodiversity?

In my opinion online projects about current global issues such as this should also include suggestions for "taking action". Some ideas for taking action to preserve biodiversity are listed on the International Year of Biodiversity website. It will be my challenge to include some of these ideas as "student friendly" activities in the online project.

Teachers love links to quality resources, especially those which can be used effectively on an interactive whiteboard. The new edna Simple Search tool (while still in Beta mode) will help me find relevant quality resources, not forgetting that there is already an edna Biodiversity theme page.

Several OzProjects from 2007 and 2008 were created using Bloom's Taxonomy to structure questions which promote higher order thinking. The Possum Magic OzProject for lower primary students was planned using Gardner's Multiple Intelligences.

I also think online projects should provide opportunities for students to share creative thoughts. I have recently been exploring an approach to thinking called Visible Thinking. I think some of the ideals and routines developed by the Visible Thinking Team will help me to develop online activities which involve students in investigating, sharing creative thoughts and working online to celebrate biodiversity and learn more about this global issue.

See Think Wonder seems to me a good place to start. I have already found some interesting Flickr photos tagged with biodiversity and saved some of the ones which are licenced with a Creative Commons licence such that I can use them with attribution under certain conditions.

See Think Wonder is a routine for exploring works of art and other interesting things. In the Biodiversity online project I hope to encourage students to make careful observations about the biodiversity photos thus stimulating their curiosity and encouraging them to find out more about the photographed plant, animal or micro-organism and the ecosystem of which it is a part.

Here is one of the photos I will use.

Students will be asked to respond to each photo by writing 3 sentences with the following beginnings.

I see.........................

I think.......................

I wonder....................

Under each photo (as well as the Creative Commons Attribution) will be some links to more information relevant to the photo.

I look forward to your ideas in regard to using this and other Visible Thinking ideals and routines in online projects.


  1. I really like this idea for encouraging critical thinking skills and from found a video of Stephanie Martin explaining a Thinking Key's activity that she uses with her Kindergarten students (http://www.pz.harvard.edu/vt/VisibleThinking_html_files/01_VisibleThinkingInAction/01c_VTPoP.html). Seeing her actively explaining and demonstrating this visible thinking routine helped me to understand and see the benefits of the strategy.

  2. Thanks Alison. I will have a look at the video and maybe include a link to it in an "information for teachers" area of the project. I am keen for the teachers who join the project to have some information about the Visible Thinking routines used as the basis for some of the activities.

  3. Hi Cecily,
    There is a really lovely PowerPoint of a kindergarten using the inquiry approach 'I spy, I think, I wonder: Inquiry adventure'

  4. Hi, your work sounds interesting. I'm pleased that my image was used for your work - it is in the hope that some of it will be able to be used for educational purposes that I put the flickr pics under creative commons in the first place.