Twenty years ago in 2002, Learning Prep School began using a new system of visual tools called Thinking Maps®. Developed by Dr. David Hyerle in 1988, he figured out that every person analyzes information in 8 different ways:
- Breaking down into parts
- Establishing relationships between things
From this understanding, he developed a set of visual tools for understanding and mastering these eight thinking processes in a way that is clearly defined and helps students to think on their own, and process information independently.
All students at Learning Prep School use Thinking Maps®, starting from their first day here. Since all staff are trained and use them on a regular basis, students develop an automaticity with them and are able to apply critical thinking skills to problem-solve and develop higher-level, abstract thinking. Because Thinking Maps® works in every grade, in every subject, in every elective, and at any level of academic activity, we have found that students are able to more quickly and effectively grasp and retain new concepts, given that they are used in every class by each teacher. Through their use, students can organize and see their own thinking and teachers can then use the completed maps to observe the students' thinking processes.
Since we have been using them, we have found that Thinking Maps® have an enormous benefit to our community:
- Students and teachers sharing a common language that improves communication and facilitates the learning process.
- Students are developing a higher level of thinking (application and evaluation) while working on recall and comprehension skills.
- Students' attitudes have become more positive toward learning.
- Students have demonstrated improvement in their ability to organize thoughts.
- The quality of learning has been taken to a higher level, as activities have become more meaningful and relevant.
- Students demonstrating a greater retention of knowledge.
- Improved quality and increased quantity of writing has been observed by teachers.
- Teachers who have used Thinking Maps to plan lessons and develop curriculum have noted improved organization and focus.
In conjunction with the results of ongoing research in the field of education, the developers of Thinking Maps have altered and added to their set of tools over the years, particularly as technologies have improved. These changes have been notably beneficial for developing students' writing skills and providing AT (assistive technology) accommodations. Ongoing training with regard to Thinking Maps for all LPS staff ensures that current "best practices" are incorporated into every class.
As we celebrate 20 years of Thinking Maps® this year at LPS, we are thrilled to have such an effective tool to support our students.
For more information on Thinking Maps®, check out www.thinkingmaps.com, or feel free to contact any member of our LPS Thinking Maps Team: Marla Jacobs, Dana Haberman and Cheryl Baggen.