Personalized Learning Strategy:

Make Thinking Visible

NOTE: This strategy is part of the self-paced Develop Learner Agency Course

Metacognition, the ability to think about your thinking and act on that reflection, has been shown to lead to greater learning outcomes and higher learner agency. To start the metacognitive process, educators can make their own thinking visible by thinking out loud and modeling metacognition. They can also provide sentence stems and opportunities for learners to show their thinking. This is common in math class but can be expanded to other subject areas.

Bright Spots

Gain inspiration from authentic examples of this strategy shared by teachers who have used them with their learners.

Creating your own Bright Spots? Let’s get them out into the world! Share yours here.

Write on the Tables

Students write out their thinking directly on the table and describe how they know something.

Talk About Strategies

At CCDS, sentence stems are provided to help elementary students talk about their math strategies in small groups and with a partner.

Write on the Walls

Write on the Walls (or individual whiteboards)

Use individual or group white boards for learners to write out their thinking.

Graphic Organizers

Source: Around the Kampfire

Graphic organizers can help support students’ thinking AND they can make that thinking visible. The support learners in thinking through the pieces of a whole that get them to a final result.

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Using a KWL graphic organizer helps build metacognition and organize their thinking throughout the learning process.


Learners at Hampton Middle School use cards to make their thinking visible by putting different synonyms with their vocabulary words.


Inspired? Use the resources below to bring this learner-centered strategy to your learning community.

Related Learner-Centered Content

If you found this helpful, try this related strategy:

Learn More in this Learner-Centered Course:

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Associated Learner-Centered Competencies:

Empower Learners: I help learners build their agency, determine priorities, and persist through challenges.