I have been very fortunate in my teaching career, to have taught for districts/schools that value professional development. I have attended more than my fair share of PD. Some have been good, some so-so, and some life changing. Thinking Maps was one of the life changing ones!
Thinking Maps are not only an incredible teaching and assessment tool for educators, they are also an amazing tool for students to use to enhance and deepen their understanding of any content area. Once the student understands the thinking associated with each Thinking Map (define in context, describe, classify, compare and contrast, sequence, cause and effect, part to whole relationships, and see analogies) they are empowered to organize their own thinking in a clear and concise manner.
A year ago my school’s staff was trained in Thinking Maps. Then, my teammates and I went to the training to become trainers. We also became trainers for the Thinking Maps writing program, called Write From the Beginning and Beyond. It is extremely easy to provide training for programs I whole-heartedly believe in. A few weeks ago, my team and I provided a follow-up Thinking Map session for our staff. In my opinion it was the best received training we have done, thus far. The teachers had used and tried out Thinking Maps enough that we were able to lead them to the next level of understanding. We had each group create six out of the eight maps, to teach a concept taught at their grade level or content area. We provided samples for each map, as well. We heard many positive comments mainly because Thinking Maps are a tool you can implement immediately, without extra preparation time involved. The teachers appreciated having the time and guidance to create the maps that will aid their instruction and student achievement.
I always have my students include their Frame of Reference around their Thinking Map. I want them to practice and get in the habit of utilizing this metacognitive strategy.