Thinking Tools

The NZ curriculum defines Thinking as “using creative, critical and metacognitive processes to make sense of information, experiences and ideas”.

So often students are set the task of teasing out ideas they have without suitable guidance as to how they might do this. Terms such as “mind-mapping” or “brainstorm” are often used without any real reference to what they mean or how one goes about doing this.

The following links provide some useful online tools that can be used by students to scaffold their thinking, and are suitable for promoting collaborative work in thinking and the exploration of ideas.
For a comprehensive list of mind-mapping
and concept-mapping tools available on the web
check out the two links on Wikipedia here:

Visible Thinking is a flexible and systematic research-based approach to integrating the development of students’ thinking with content learning across subject matters.

4 Responses to Thinking Tools

  1. Graeme Allan says:

    I throw Mindjet MindManager (PC and Mac) into the ring as a superior ‘thinking organiser’ for teachers and students. Check the programme in Google for download costs. They are moderate.
    I’m mildly concerned that Dr Tony Buzan has not yet earned a place in the nominated MindMapping arena. This is like leaving Jamie Oliver out of a list of contemporary cooks.
    The NZ Curriculum definition of “Thinking” is so poor, it is irresponsible. The majority of teachers will look at that definition and respond with the predictable cop-out. “We do that already!” Education needs a new way of thinking. Restating what has always been is not the path the new curriculum should be promoting.
    Most teachers would give a nod in Howard Gardner’s direction. Try Page 1 of “Five Minds for the Future” where he writes, “While making no claims to have a crystal ball, I concern myself here with the kinds of minds that people will need if they – if we (italics)- are to thrive in the world during the eras to come”.
    Traditional thinking; criticism, argument and analysis is not the path that Gardner, emphatically promotes.
    There are, of course, practical options that fit Gardner’s hypothetical question. These are what New Zealand teachers should be exploring rather than the tired methods quoted in the national curriculum statement.
    By the way, where is the Thinking leadership from TKI? And what is “creative thinking”?

  2. Graeme Allan says:

    Derek is promoting “Thinking Tools” and “cloud computing” in his Blog. All power to his elbows!! I intend connecting the two promotions in this post.

    I am very unhappy with the NZ Curriculum definition of “Thinking”. I have made that point and don’t need to repeat it.

    There is an obligation to offer other possibilities and alternatives to the readership of this Blog; positive and constructive “thinking” in its own right.

    Thinking must be taught as a skill, directly and with daily attention. The key competency “Thinking” is not an add-on, some sort of philosophical debate originating from the OECD and the DeSeCo Report. Instead, whatever thinking style you or your school chooses to apply to satisfy the new curriculum, there are five design objectives to engrave on your forehead when planning:

    The Thinking programme should be simple and practical.
    The programme should have a utility across a wide range of ages, abilities and cultures.
    The Thinking skills trained should be Thinking skills required in real life.
    Training in Thinking skills should not be dependent on the prior acquisition of knowledge.
    Students should be able to transfer the Thinking skills they have learned to a variety of real-life situations.

    Derek has described this page of his Blog as “Thinking Tools”.
    The “tool” concept is the basis of the quality of training in Thinking, the New Thinking, we need in a world where change is accelerating exponentially. Critical thinking is an excellent thinking style but it is insufficient to meet contemporary, and future, needs and challenges. Instead, we need students/citizens who can deal effectively with anything that comes their way, including “information”.

    Now, a change of tack to cloud computing…
    You are welcome to access my Public Folder and download a Thinking Tool, the sort of ‘animal’ I believe Derek is asking for in this Blog.
    To access the Thinking tool, type the following address into your browser:

    That URL will take you directly to my ‘cloud’, my Public Folder in MobileMe, Apple’s subscription service. And no, you do not need a Mac to access this site. Feel free to download the tool. More important, after the vacation, use it. I have made the tool available to anyone without constraint; there are no passwords required for access.

    I will close access privileges at the end of the first week of the new term.

    The tool is self-explanatory and can be used with both secondary and primary students.

    If you would like to ‘talk’ to me about this tool and its use, please contact me at:

    Viso gero from Kaunas in Lithuania!

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