As students constructed key understandings during a class discussion at the Making Conclusions stage of our inquiry, I found they were making multiple connections with each others’ ideas. As each student shared their thinking I typed into our Google Document so that they could see and reflect on their discussion.
However, I realised that this form of note taking was rather linear. I considered using standard thinking maps but these tend to be linear thought processes which may show relationships but not necessarily reveal or build connections. I also found myself in the role of discussion moderator as students had to take turns talking. Only 23% of students were participating. These conditions limited learner responsibility.
I needed to change my approach so I borrowed an idea I learned through #aussieED about Hexagonal Thinking. I outlined the basic routine which my class immediately modified to suit their needs. We would focus on one area at a time (the major events of Australian migration in the 1700s). We would begin with a Think-Pair-Share to support initial thinking. We would listen to each hexagonal note from the Think-Pair-Share and begin mapping. Then we could talk freely in pods, adding our thinking (ideas, feelings, questions, responses) onto hexagonal notes and mapping where it fit best. Finally we would “step back” to see the major branches of key understandings.
Students took quickly to this more suitable approach. It gave them greater control of the discussion removing me as the gatekeeper of conversation. It allowed them to listen to, talk about, record and connect ideas at their own pace. They were able to build onto the thoughts of others simultaneously. It was not only visible it was also physical thinking as students could place and replace their hexagonal notes in consultation with each other. We repeated this approach for the remaining focus areas maintaining 100% participation. What was even more impressive was the key understandings they constructed together.
The class unanimously renamed this visible thinking routine Honeycomb Thinking.
ProDivas is a simple sharing approach, teacher to teacher, for our professional development. We collect and share bite-sized practical ideas. Once you take a bite, you may be self-motivated to eat the whole meal! We aim to find ideas supported by research to then apply for “best practice” but some ideas are too good to miss and are just simple “teacher tips”.