Girl using Studies Weekly

See, Think, Wonder Teaching Strategy

Grades: K-5

Strands: All

Why: (Purpose)

  • Higher Student Achievement
    • Engages students in a classroom or small group discussion, and students learn by listening to classmates and discussing what they See, Think, and Wonder about
  • Student Engagement
    • Students will determine the discussion topics by the questions they ask, allowing for increased engagement in the classroom
  • Inquiry Alignment
    • See, Think, Wonder is a great way to build inquiry by allowing students to ask questions about the focus picture or primary resource
  •  Well-Being
    • Students learn empathy as they read human rights’ stories and find real-life heroes

What: (Description of the Strategy)

This strategy will guide student analysis of any visual media by engaging student thought processes and helping them See (observe), Think (make inferences with reasoning), and Wonder (ask questions).

  • Image Selection
    • Images can be chosen with any content area, topic, or theme. Artwork and photographs that contain people, objects, and words provide for rich observations and inferences.
  • Context
    • It is important that students have enough background information to make observations. The more information they have about a particular topic, the easier it will be to transition to the wonder (inference) stage.
  • Physical Environment
    • Depending on the student age, this can be done as a whole class activity, a small group activity, or an individual activity.
  • Norms
    • Encourage a low-risk environment in which students can pose observations and inferences without judgment.
    • When in the See (observe) phase, encourage students to observe and NOT infer. It is easy for students to automatically infer and start reasoning.
    • There are many ways to engage students in observations.
      • Guided questions help students stay focused on what they see. Questions can be: What do you see? What objects are in the image? What words are in the image? What people are in the image? Describe what you see. What do you notice first? How are the objects and people arranged? What is the physical setting? What other details can you see?
      • Using a “viewer guide” in which students look at one quadrant or section of an image also keeps them in an observational state and keeps the observations focused on one area or aspect of the image.
      • When trying to increase student involvement, give each student five sticky notes, and have them write down what they observe. Then give them five more sticky notes and have them write down their questions. This encourages all students to participate, even if they are not willing to verbally participate.
  • Anchor Charts are highly encouraged for each phase (see, think, wonder) so that students’ comments and questions are seen and incorporated into the discussion.

How: (How to Set up the Strategy)

  1. Choose and present an image.
  2. Invite students to observe what they see. Encourage students to make as many observations as possible.
  3. Invite students to “look closer.”
  4. Create a list of observations, and invite students to make inferences about what they see.
    1. Point out that a picture is the same as an article or story; it’s just written in shapes and colors instead of words.
    2. Making inferences will help students discover the story behind the picture.
  5. Ask the students what their questions are.
    1. What are you thinking about?
    2. What do you wonder about?
  6. Write down students’ questions on the whiteboard, poster, or anchor chart.
  7. Using the student questions, have a class discussion. When a question is answered, the student (or teacher) rewrites the question into a statement and moves it to an “I Know” chart.

Digital/Virtual Application of the Strategy:

In a virtual classroom (either with the whole group or, if the teacher is meeting with smaller groups, online breakout rooms are great), the teacher displays an image on a Jamboard or presentation screen. (There are many virtual tools that will allow a teacher to record and display student comments).

Ask students to make as many observations as possible, take those observations and make inferences about them, and finally, allow students to ask questions about the focus picture. Write questions and display them so the students can refer to them frequently. Use these questions to lead the discussion of the topic.

Graphic Organizer Templates:

Recent Posts

studies weekly primary sources

See Our Primary Source Media Online

As a social studies teacher, it’s often difficult to instill an appreciation for historical events in young students. While most people over 25 can remember