Back to Basics: Thinking Maps

August 9, 2016

 

 

 

   Before school started last year at my middle school, at one of our workshop/meetings, our principal was ecstatic to introduce the new and shiny thing they wanted us to implement this year. What was it this time? Thinking Maps. We got very expensive, very informative books, hands on training, even an expert to come talk to us about this new fabulous thing! By now, I’m sure you’ve all seen them: the brace map, the double bubble map, the multi-flow map. I was reluctant at first, of course. I grew up with outlines and Venn diagrams. These just seemed cheesy.

   But they won me over. I really appreciated the posters I got with the book to put in my classroom; I could point them out as a useful tool whenever the opportunity arose.  They’re better than ready-made graphic organizers because it pushes kids to be independent critical thinkers, it’s more open to individual creativity, and we all know that the brain loves pictures.

 

   My assistant principal at the time was also coming to watch me teach often to see how I was doing and to give any constructive criticism that might be helpful. After one lesson she observed, she came to me, a little crestfallen, asking why I didn’t use the thinking maps for that lesson. Didn’t I like them? Didn’t I find them simply wonderful and brilliant? It was here that I had to admit that I wasn’t exactly sure how to use them all the time. There are some that fit for Language Arts classrooms quite well, but there are some I never touched because I didn’t know how to make use of it in my lessons.

 

   At the next grade level meeting, I found that I wasn’t the only one. How do you use a multi-flow map for math? How do you use a brace map for science? After some brainstorming, and some Googling, we came up with some ideas and some governing questions to help us that will hopefully help you too!

 

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