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Getting Your Mind in Shape Through Hexagonal Thinking

Being able to think for oneself is one of the highest of goals for education, not only to allow individuals to grow to their best, but to make for an informed and highly effective democracy. It is because of these things that developing critical thinking in our students should be of the highest goals for teachers.

Critical thinking is the ability for a person to examine and evaluate information in order to come to an informed conclusion. In order to be skilled in this type of thinking, students must be able to analyze, think creatively, and problem-solve.

While searching for ideas that incorporate these types of cognition, I recently came across the idea of hexagonal thinking and found it to be ideal as a divergent way to employ analytical thinking, make connections across concepts, and provide ample fodder for class discussions.

To complete this activity, curricular concepts are written on hexagons, one each per shape. In this example, students explore the ideas related to perfectionism and place each shape next to another they think has a direct connection until all concepts have been positioned. A discussion then ensues as to why the ideas were placed as they were, and this is where the divergence comes in to play. Since there are six sides on each hexagon, there are six sides where connections can be made. Each group or person can come up with a variety of placements that makes sense to them. To increase the rigor, students may be required to describe their choice of placement where 2 or 3 vertices meet.

Betsy Potash, an educator and blogger, has an excellent description of this process found here. In addition, she provides a series of free online templates that make it super easy for teachers to create their hexagonal lessons. These templates can be created for both in-person and virtual learning and can be found here. Finally, SOLO has provided a hexagonal generator that allows you to input concepts and then creates a paper copy of the hexagons for student use. You can explore this free offering here.

I hope you find this learning activity as exciting as I do as a way to promote critical thinking in our young people. Critical thinking should not be an add-on to a student’s learning, but an essential component of their daily mental exercise!


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