Thinking Maps

What Are Thinking Maps?

Thinking maps are dependable visual patterns that are linked to eight key thinking processes. Using the maps allows students to visualize their thinking and create images to map their thinking. These maps help students reach higher levels of critical and creative thinking and a language of learning that can be used in every subject throughout their academic careers. The eight maps are: Circle, Bubble, Double Bubble, Tree, Brace, Flow, Multi-flow, and Bridge. Click the links below to learn more about the different thinking maps and their features. Video tutorials, pdfs, and examples and provided to help.

Which Thinking Map Do I Use?

To find out which thinking map you should use to answer a question, you must identify what type of thinking you need to do to answer the question. Do you need to define, describe, compare & contrast, classify, sequence, show causes & effects, show a part-whole relationship, or show relating factors? You can identify what thinking a question asks by looking for the skill needed to answer the essential question(s) being answered. Below is a thinking map that shows the type of thinking each map can help you visually map to answer the essential question:

Cognitive Vocabulary Resource Guide.pdf

If you don't know which type of thinking or skills the question is asking of you, look for signal words. Below is a thinking map for of words that signal or hint at what map you should use to match the thinking required to answer the essential question:

Signal Words.pdf

What Is a Circle Map?

The circle map is used to:

  • Define

  • Brainstorm

  • Discuss

  • List

  • Identify

  • Tell all about/Tell everything you know

Video tutorial:


What Is a Bubble Map?

The bubble map is used to:

  • Describing with adjectives

  • Identify characteristics

  • Identify properties

  • Identify qualities

  • Uses vivid language

  • Observe using your five senses

  • Video tutorial:


What Is a Double Bubble Map?

The double bubble map is used to:

  • Compare and contrast

  • Identify similarities and differences

  • Identify what is alike and different

Video tutorial:


What Is a Tree Map?

The tree map is used to:

  • Classify

  • Categorize

  • Sort or group

  • Give sufficient and related details

  • For convergent and divergent thinking

  • Identify types or kinds of

  • Show main idea and details

Video tutorial:


What Is a Brace Map?

The brace map is used to:

  • Identify the parts of a whole

  • Show the structure

  • Deconstruct

  • Take apart

  • Show physical components

Video tutorial:


What Is a Flow Map?

The flow map is used to:

  • Sequence steps, stages, or events.

  • Put things in order

  • Show cycles and processes

  • Order information

  • Analyze patterns

Video tutorial:


What Is a Multi-Flow Map?

The multi-flow map is used to analyze:

  • Causes and effects

  • Motives and consequences

  • Impacts and benefits

  • Reasons and results

  • If...then predictions

  • Why

  • Outcomes

Video tutorial:


What Is a Bridge Map?

The bridge map is used for:

  • Identifying relationships

  • Guessing the rule/relating factor

  • Understand analogies, similes, and metaphors

  • Connecting related ideas and relationships

  • One-to-one correspondence

Video tutorial:


What Is the Frame of Reference?

The frame of reference is a tool to help you frame your thinking and think about your thinking. You must ask yourself, "What is framing your thinking?" To do this, you must answer three essential questions:

  • Where did you get the information in your map?

  • What is influencing the information in your map?

  • What conclusions can you draw from your map?

The tree maps below guides you through the frame of reference guiding questions and their location and color in the frame of reference.


How Do I Use the Thinking Maps Learning Community

You can create your thinking maps on paper on online using the Thinking Maps Learning Community. It allows you to color code maps, add images, and more! The flow maps below guides you through how to make your maps color code then, add images, and more on Thinking Maps Learning Community. There is also a video below the guide that walks you through building all 8 maps.

School Code for Students: stesca6

TMLC Map Builder Quick Start Guide.pdf

Creating a Map With Map Builder in Standard or Advanced Mode

New Features in Map Builder Customization (2020)