What Are Thinking Maps?

Thinking Maps are eight specific visual patterns

Visualizing our thinking allows us to have a concrete image of our abstract thoughts. Visual representations enhance the brain's natural ability to detect and construct meaningful patterns. Thinking Maps reduce anxiety by providing familiar visual patterns for thinking and working with complex ideas and situations.

Research: "Although thinking is innate and spontaneous, skillful thinking must be cultivated." -Art Costa, The Thought-Filled Curriculum

Thinking Maps are based on 8 cognitive skills

Each visual is linked to a specific thought process. By connecting a concrete visual design with a specific abstract thought process, students create mental visual patterns for thinking.

These patterns empower students with the tools to become independent thinkers.

Research: "Students need to learn how to think. Just like swinging a bat or playing the piano, good thinking has learnable components. And the process of clear thinking should not be left a mystery to students, or to teachers."

"Learning to think requires practice in thinking. Thinking needs to be frequent and ongoing." -David Perkins, Project Zero at Harvard School of Education, Cognitive Research and David Kobrin, Professor of Education at Brown University.

Thinking Maps are used in combinations for depth and complexity

Thinking Maps are most effective when used in combination to fully develop a concept or theme. Analyzing an idea from multiple thought processes helps people develop the depth of thought necessary for making meaning.

"As teachers learn to focus on asking questions, all learners will see the power of using Thinking Maps as a set of visual patterns for thinking. Co-constructing a variety of Thinking Maps to comprehend complex texts, to solve problems or to think analytically will enable students to develop the stamina and persistence they need to be career and college ready." –Chris Yeager, Co-author Thinking Maps: A Language for Leadership

Thinking Maps are used by all members of the school community

Thinking Maps equip all members of the school community with a Common Language for meaningful learning and interacting.

The consistency and flexibility of each Thinking Map promotes:

  • Learner-centered and collaborative learning
  • Concept Development
  • Reflective Thinking
  • Creativity
  • Clarity of Communication
  • Continuous Cognitive Development

Thinking Maps are applied in all content areas

Thinking Maps are most effective when used to teach readiness standards or objectives. Disciplinary literacy requires students to think critically, creatively and analytically in all content areas. As students learn different concepts with increasing complexity, they can apply the same patterns for cognition in all areas.