Thinking Maps

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.

Our table at the training of trainers for Write From The Beginning and Beyond- Expository.  I was the only teacher from my school to attend this training, as everyone else went while I was teaching summer school.  I dread going to conferences alone!  I was fortunate to find the perfect table to join.  One teacher was a guy from Creighton School District and a woman who taught at Deer Valley.  We worked well together and I ended up really enjoying working with them.

Our table at the training of trainers for Write From The Beginning and Beyond- Expository. I was the only teacher from my school to attend this training, as everyone else went while I was teaching summer school. I dread going to conferences alone! I was fortunate to find the perfect table to join. One teacher was a guy from Creighton School District and a woman who taught at Deer Valley. We worked well together and I ended up really enjoying working with them.

Bridge Map- See Analogies- It would be read as Elvis Presley is an iconic musician of Rock-n-Roll as Ludwig Van Beethoven is an iconic musician of classical music.

Bridge Map- See Analogies- It would be read as Elvis Presley is an iconic musician of Rock-n-Roll as Ludwig Van Beethoven is an iconic musician of classical music.

Brace Map-Whole to Part Great for vocabulary instruction!  My husband helped me create the map for a guitar.

Brace Map-Whole to Part
Great for vocabulary instruction! My husband helped me create the map for a guitar.

Double-Bubble Map - Compare and Contrast- Here are Thinking Maps my 2nd grade students created to compare and contrast the main idea and key details from two different pieces of text.

Double-Bubble Map – Compare and Contrast- Here are Thinking Maps my 2nd grade students created to compare and contrast the main idea and key details from two different pieces of text.

Double-Bubble- Comparing and Contrasting MI and key details from two texts. This map was completed by a 5th grade student.

Double-Bubble- Comparing and Contrasting MI and key details from two texts. This map was completed by a 5th grade student.

Another student example of the Double-Bubble Map.  Fourth graders were comparing and contrasting the main idea and key details from a book about the sky and a passage about clouds.

Another student example of the Double-Bubble Map. Fourth graders were comparing and contrasting the main idea and key details from a book about the sky and a passage about clouds.

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.

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