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Thinking Maps

Thinking Maps

  |   30th street, Aaron School, Elementary School, High School, Lower School, Middle School, Special Programs

Thinking Maps


Students at Aaron Elementary, Middle, and High School use visual thinking tools called Thinking Maps to generate, organize, and analyze their ideas prior to completing a variety of tasks, both academic and social.


There are eight different Thinking Maps, each with its own visual representation of a specific cognitive process. By using concrete visual patterns that remain consistent across topic areas, Thinking Maps provide students with a meaningful way to understand and develop abstract cognitive skills. At Aaron School, Thinking Maps are used school-wide across all subject areas and grade levels to facilitate critical thinking, comprehension, retention, and organization of ideas.


The specific cognitive processes that the Thinking Maps represent include:

Circle Mapdefining in context

Bubble Mapdescribing qualities

Double Bubble Mapcomparing and contrasting

Tree Mapclassifying or categorizing

Brace Map identifying part/whole relationships

Flow Map sequencing

Multi-Flow Mapanalyzing cause and effect

Bridge Mapanalyzing relationships/seeing analogies


The cognitive skills that Thinking Maps represent are taught in some capacity by instructors of every discipline across grade levels. They are a thread that connects academic, social, and creative learning. Thinking Maps provide teachers and therapists with a tool to explicitly demonstrate these cognitive skills in developmentally appropriate ways during academic instruction, as well as within social development and collaborative problem solving. The consistent use of Thinking Maps to organize and analyze information helps students to develop a common visual language that will ultimately support their understanding and application of these concepts.



Each Thinking Map that is created gets surrounded by a Frame of Reference. The Frame of Reference is the space in which each student can answer questions about the information contained within the map. The questions can be teacher or student generated and should encourage the student to think critically about the information. Questions can include, “How do you know the information?”; “What is the main idea?”; “Why is the information important?”; “What varying perspectives does the information represent?”


To learn more about Thinking Maps, please visit: thinkingmaps.com.

Better learning will come not so much from finding better ways for a teacher to INSTRUCT…

…but from giving the learner better ways to CONSTRUCT MEANING.

Seymore Papert, 1990

Thinking Maps
Thinking Maps
Thinking Maps