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Spotlight on Strategies:See-think-wonder

Ask students to study the image and observe as many details as possible. Give students five minutes to write answers to the following questions: What do you see? What do you think about that? What does it make you wonder? Discuss as a group using I see...I think...I wonder.

Big idea

Research-based instructional strategies allow educators to create active learning experiences with digital media. See-think-wonder is one of a collection of research-based routines developed as part of the Visual Thinking project from Harvard's Project Zero. This strategy will help students develop thinking skills and deepen their understanding of the topics they study.

Overview of strategy



an image relating to topic, paper, pen/pencil

  1. Display the image you've selected.
  2. Encourage students to look closely and try to observe as many details as possible.
  3. Give students five minutes to jot down answers to the following questions:

    • What do you see? Remind students to only report on things they actually see in the image.
    • What do you think about that?
    • What does it make you wonder?
  4. Facilitate a group discussion about the questions. Ask students to use the following stems when sharing: "I see...," "I think...," "I wonder...."
Sum it up

The see-think-wonder routine uses observation as a springboard for thinking more deeply. It requires students to take notice and observe an image or object before attempting to interpret it. Using wonder as the final step ensures time for students to use their observation skills to gather new information, think about it, and synthesise it before taking it further into new areas to explore.

More ideas
  • As part of the summary discussion, have students create a T-chart. On the left side, they record what they wonder about, and, on the right side, they record answers to the questions as they learn new information about the topic under discussion.
  • Scaffold this strategy by having the whole group observe an image and complete the activity together on chart paper.
  • Extend the conversation by having students post the answers to their question in an online format such as Padlet, Edmodo or a Google doc; they can also participate in an online discussion with students from another location.

special thanks to Francie Snyder (Florida, U.S.) for submitting this strategy.

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