Thinking Map Examples

Thinking Maps at LPS – Social Studies and History/Language

  • Tree Maps have been used to track the expansion of America into the South, North, and Midwest. Major events in the Middle Ages were sequenced using a flow map. A tree map was used to categorize the separation of powers of the federal government into the judicial, legislative, and executive branches.

  • Double Bubble maps are regularly used in “Current Events” to make connections between past and present historical events, such as the Cold War and the war on terrorism. A bridge map was used for developing geography skills and teaching students how to read maps.

  • A bubble map was used to recall information and describe Christopher Columbus after viewing the documentary The Great Discoverer. Circle maps were used at the start of the year to introduce American History and help students understand the importance of learning about our past.

  • Thinking maps are often used as a pre-writing activity, helping seniors to organize ideas and write a cohesive, well-developed essay. Students are often able to choose any map which best suits their particular way of thinking, enabling them to become independent learners. Maps are also employed as a review tool, such as using a circle map to brainstorm and review the contents of a guest speaker’s lecture on his role in the Vietnam War.


Thinking Maps at LPS – Reading

  • Students worked on a book project using thinking maps. Students read the biography of any person of their choice and sequenced the main events of the person’s life using a flow map. Using the flow map as well as a paragraph template, the students then wrote three paragraphs describing the beginning, middle, and end parts of the person’s life. Thinking maps enabled students to break down and understand the components of the book project: gather information, summarize facts, and write an essay.

  • Multi-mapping was used for characterization in novels. By combining bubble maps within flow maps, students were able to track how characters changed throughout the story. In The Whipping Boy, a circle map about medieval times was used to brainstorm students’ knowledge gathered from books. The students then took the information in the circle map and transferred it to a tree map; the challenge was for them to come up with their own categories. This particular exercise is an excellent example of how thinking maps assist with the development of higher level thinking skills.

  • Students read short stories and poems about famous people and speeches by which they are known. The choices included Martin Luther King, President Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Stanton. The students had to compare and contrast two famous people of their choosing using a Double Bubble Map. They also collaborated on writing a play about Elizabeth Stanton that they practiced and videotaped for Parents Night. Thinking Maps describing Stanton and summarizing her life helped the students write the play.

  • Students were given a template describing the steps for completing a book project (please see attached graphic). Many students with executive functioning issues have difficulty understanding the scope and sequence of a project, and how all the different steps come together to form one major assignment. Other students have trouble breaking down an entire project into segmented steps that are manageable to accomplish. Elaine’s flow map enables both kinds of students to benefit from the flow map’s organization of information.


Thinking Maps at LPS – Literature

  • Every Thinking Map was used while reading The Cay by Theodore Taylor. For example, a Multi-flow was used to examine the causes and effects of a main character’s death. A Brace Map broke down the physical setting of the story, and a Flow Map was used to map the plot. A book report on Gloria Miklowitz’s The War between the Classes was written with the help of each Thinking Map.

  • Bubble maps are used for character analysis in books and short stories. Flow Maps help sequence events in the main plot as well as the sub-plot, and Tree Maps can keep track of multiple characters from the same story.

  • Students have used the multi-mapping technique (drawing maps within maps) to summarize and analyze three novels: The View from Saturday Night by E.L. Konigsburg, The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, and Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson. A Flow Map was drawn, with one box for each chapter, and within that box, students were able to choose any Thinking Map to summarize or analyze the story elements. Some students chose Bubble Maps to describe characters, while others chose Tree Maps to track character development. The completed maps then were used to develop multi-paragraph essays about the books.

  • In “The Wish Ring” by Suzanne Loebl, students used Flow Maps to summarize major and minor story events. Characters were described in a synonym activity using Bubble Maps; similarities and differences between characters were examined using Double Bubble Maps. A Multi-flow Map detailed the causes and effects of the story’s main event.



Thinking Maps at LPS – Mathematics

  • Tree Maps were used to classify right, obtuse, and acute angles; equilateral, isosceles, and scalene triangles were compared and contrasted using a Triple Bubble Map. Measurement was examined in a Tree Map, which was divided into three main categories of volume, length, and weight. These categories were then broken down further into two subcategories – metric and customary measurements .
  • Students used a Tree Map to categorize various kinds of geometric shapes. A Brace Map was used to identify coins, and factoring was examined using a double bubble map to compare and contrast groups of numbers.
  • Steps of equations and different solving systems were sequenced using Flow Maps. A Circle Map was drawn to brainstorm cooperative learning. From the Circle Map, students developed a rubric that would be used to evaluate their cooperative learning projects; this process enabled them to fully understand what was expected and how they would be evaluated, enabling them to take ownership of their grades.
  • A Circle Map was used to brainstorm all the ways math is used in daily life. The sequence of operations was organized in a Flow Map, and the similarities of fractions and decimals were evaluated using a Double Bubble Map.


Thinking Maps at LPS – Science

  • Students used a triple bubble map to compare and contrast the different energies (mechanical electrical, and chemical); an accommodation that Susan used was giving the children a list of the different energies and having them decide where they belong. They then cut and pasted the energies into the appropriate bubbles. She also developed a tree map that has been placed in the students’ binders as a reference guide; it classifies the different kinds of energies (kinetic, potential, mechanical, chemical, electrical, light, heat, and sound) for students to refer to as needed when completing assignments.
  • The five kingdoms of life (protist, menoeran, fungi, plants, and animals) were classified in a tree map. A variety of maps have been used to study plants and animals: classifying and categorizing, comparing and contrasting, defining and citing examples of each, and breaking down the groups into subgroups.
  • A brace map was used to break down the different systems of the human body. The similarities and differences between plants and animals were examined using the double bubble map, and examples of plants and animals were categorized using a tree map.
  • Some classes are participating in an engineering design project titled “Build a Better…”. Students identified a machine that could be better designed – a paper shredder – and drew a flow map to sequence how the machine will work step-by-step. Then a brace map was used to break down the different parts of the machine. Other students have examined the parts of the Earth using a brace map, and a triple bubble map compared and contrasted the differences and similarities between heat, sound, and light.