thinking at desktopPC

Thing17 is about digital tools to support and organise thinking.

Thinking skills are an important part of 21st century education. Thinking is one of our key competencies needed to live, learn, work, and contribute as active members of our communities: “Thinking is about using creative, critical, and metacognitive processes to make sense of information, experiences, and ideas” (NZ Curriculum).

Brain research indicates that we are visual thinkers and learners. The start of Tom Wujec’s TED talk explains how we make meaning by using images to clarify ideas.

Digital Tools to organise your thinking

Thinking maps are often used to provide guidance and direction for critical or creative thinking. Graphic organisers are a visual display of relationships between facts, concepts or ideas. They help make sense out of complex and messy information. Here are some digital tools we use:

Padlet for real time brainstorming with digital post-it notes (as well as for collaboration).

Popplet to build and share mindmapping and process maps with words, images, or links in. to create bubble maps, that can be exported (to save and reimport them).

Also Webspiration, iMindQ, or Mindmeister (with an add on for Chrome).

Digital Trends list 15 Mind Mapping Tools.

GoogleDraw to create graphic organizers, use existing templates, collaborate with others, and share the final product. Eric Curts has created these helpful instructions.

Microsoft Word or Powerpoint has templates that can be used for graphic organizers or you can create your own using the SmartArt.

Gliffy, Creately, or Spiderscribe are online web tools for creating diagrams and graphic organizers.

Read, Write, Think have a number of online interactives which support students in scaffolding their thinking.

Create Debate and Debate Graph are useful aids for students to debating an issue.

try-this-iconTry this

For this Thing:

  • Choose a digital mind mapping tool
  • Create a display about your learning so far.
  • Create a blog entry that shares a link to an image of your mindmap or graphic organiser.

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Eric Frangenheim makes direct links between Blooms Taxonomy and thinking maps or graphic organizers in his Thinking Skills Framework. His article ‘Inquiry learning. The verbs and the thinking tools (task and topic)’ gives us an idea of what thinking looks like in the classroom.

Bridget Casse shares how she supports thinking with our youngest learners using thinking tools and SOLO taxonomy.

Lane Clark tells us that strategically choosing the right tool at the right time will ensure that learning is effective, efficient and successful.

These ThinkChart Organisers from Lane Clark include ideas for their classroom use.

These collections of pre-formatted graphic organizers from ThinkPort or these graphic organizer templates from LearnAlberta can be used in GoogleDocs or Microsft Word Online.

Tom Barrett shares 32 ways that he uses Padlet in the classroom.

Info graphics are effective for organizing thinking. These 10 free tools can help you make your own Infographic.


Parts of this Thing were not adapted.

Header image: Sara Jade Photography / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ
Icons: Everaldo Coelho and YellowIcon / GNU Lesser General Public License

This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Unported License.

23 teaching things is written by Lucie Lindsay and Bronwyn Edmunds at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Education and Social Work. #23Teaching

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