Log in



Thinking Maps: Visual Tools for Effective Learning; Cynthia Manning

06 Mar 2018 8:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

In 2002, Learning Prep School began implementing a new system of visual tools into our elementary through high school curricula. These tools, called Thinking Maps, are an exciting way to teach students to think on their own and process information independently. They were developed by Dr. David Hyerle in 1988 and are based on the fundamental thinking processes. Every person analyzes information in eight different ways: defining, describing, comparing/contrasting, classifying, breaking down into parts, sequencing, examining cause/effect, and establishing relationships between things. Thinking Maps are visual tools for understanding and mastering these eight thinking processes in a way that is clearly defined and common to teachers and students alike.

After students become fluent in Thinking Maps, they are able to apply multiple thinking skills to problem-solve and develop higher-level, abstract thinking. By implementing this program school-wide across the curricula, students learn more effectively and efficiently, thus enabling learning objectives to be covered in less time and with greater retention. In addition to promoting integrated thinking and interdisciplinary learning, Thinking Maps are utilized by teachers to assess student progress, gauge student knowledge, track student performance, and even assess their own lessons as they discover what students have learned from class.

These amazing tools comprise a visual language that works in every grade, in every subject, and at any level of academic activity. Students are able to organize and see their own thinking; teachers can then use the completed maps to observe the students’ thinking processes.

Thinking Maps have been used at Learning Prep consistently since September 2002, and the results have been notable. Benefits that have become apparent throughout our school include:

  • Students and teachers share a common language that improves communication and facilitates the learning process.
  • Students are developing a higher level of thinking (application and evaluation) while working on recall and comprehension skills.
  • Many students’ attitudes have become more positive toward learning.
  • Most students have demonstrated improvement in their ability to organize thoughts.
  • The quality of learning has been taken to a higher level, as activities have become more meaningful and relevant.
  • Many students demonstrate a greater retention of knowledge.
  • Improved quality and increased quantity of writing has been observed by teachers.
  • Teachers who have used Thinking Maps to plan lessons and develop curriculum have noted improved organization and focus.

As students continue to internalize the thinking processes taught within the context of the maps, additional benefits become increasingly evident. We greatly anticipate watching our students grow as they become more fluent with these effective visual tools. Learning Prep School is pleased to be on the forefront of this innovative educational trend.

For more information on Thinking Maps:

Books about Thinking Maps:

  • Visual Tools for Transforming Information into Knowledge by David Hyerle (the capstone chapter is written by Cynthia Manning and features Learning Prep School)
  • A Field Guide to Using Visual Tools by David Hyerle
  • Visual Tools for Constructing Knowledge by David Hyerle
  • Student Successes with Thinking Maps: School-based Research, Results, and Models for Achievement using Visual Tools by David Hyerle
  • Visual Tools: From Graphic Organizers to Thinking Maps by David Hyerle


Learning Prep School provides an individualized language-based program to students with complex learning profiles, including dyslexia, expressive/receptive language issues, autism spectrum disorder, and social communication disorder.

1507 Washington Street  |  West Newton, MA 02465  |  (617) 965-0764  |  contact  |  © 2017 Learning Prep School

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software • Web Design & Development by DotCreativity Web Design Services