Thursday, May 10, 2012

I want to share a differentiated teaching strategy called "Six Thinking Hats." It's a great strategy to invigorate classroom discussions and expand/deepen student ideas while providing structure and guidance. "Six Thinking Hats" is a group discussion strategy that provides a variety of ways for students to participate in a discussion. The strategy establishes six different perspectives from which to break down and analyze an essential or thematic question, problem, or issue. It asks students to think about a problem with a specific "thinking hat" on, going along with the age-old expression, "put on your thinking hat." The strategy was developed by Dr. Edward deBono, guru of creative thinking. and is widely used around the world in educational and corporate settings.                                                                                        

I first used the strategy at a History Connected book discussion group. We used it to discuss whether or not the character in a historical fiction had achieved "the American dream." After reading a short background of the American dream, to give us a common reference point, we proceeded to talk about what the novel's main character would think of the American dream. The six hats strategy provided a specific, guiding format  while prompting us to think of different perspectives. The picture below does a great job representing the depth of thinking that the strategy encourages.

The basic directions for using this strategy would be to pick a reading, issue, idea or problem that you want your students to explore. Arrange small groups of 3-4 students. Explain the expression of "thinking hat" and then read through each of the hats with the students to introduce them to the perspectives they will use to discover all aspects of an issue. Students then approach the same question six times using each "hat." 

Here is a link to a pdf that describes each hat and provides examples for each hat:

I've thought about using the Six Thinking Hats strategy to guide class discussions on Woodrow Wilson's Peace Without Victory Speech, President Kennedy's Inaugural Address, and any other documents that have wide-reaching effects. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Pamela,Thanks for the thorough overview of the Six Thinking Hats strategy. It's interesting to think of all of the different topics for which it could be used. I also like the idea of applying it to a problem, e.g. should abolitionists use violence as a tactic in the struggle against slavery?