1. It is simple.
Hexagonal Thinking is simple yet powerful. Students can make their thinking visible by writing ideas on a hexagon and forming connections.
2. It enables empathy.
As groups rearrange the hexagons in a variety of ways, they begin to see how others view the world–the very definition of empathy.
3. It brings new ideas to light.
I wasn’t convinced of this until I tried it, but the shape of the hexagon itself allows for more creative connections due to the number of sides and the way your eyes and brain search over the whole thinking map to seek connections. When you make a list or work in boxes, the linear thinking that follows can be quite effective and speedy, but for creativity–hexagons win.
4. It stimulates rich discussion.
Communication skills are strengthened since the thought experiment ideally requires collaboration. Students must communicate and petition one another while they reposition ideas and ultimately come to a consensus.
5. It makes big problems digestible.
The original context for hexagonal thinking as far as I can tell was actually in the corporate world. Author, Arie de Geus wrote about using the problem solving strategy in his book, The Living Company. Bite-size pieces not only help solve corporate headaches, but also give students structure and space to make sense of big concepts.
6. It gets students moving.
Discussions can get pretty lively as students reposition different hexagons to represent new connections.
7. It gives everyone a voice.
Students who may not feel comfortable responding to a question in front of the whole group are able to contribute and discuss connections in smaller groups as the map unfolds. English language learners and students with exceptionalities can participate at their level of comfort too.
8. It is not reserved for a specific content area or age group.
The driving question could be related to any topic for any grade level. Just be sure to have a question or problem with enough meat to stimulate a variety of perspectives and solutions.
9. It can become a visual support for future learning.
Students can refer back to the thinking map either as a visual on the classroom walls, or as a digital artifact. This can help bring back mental models around the concept or inspire new connections, continuing learning on topics far beyond their scheduled coverage time.
10. It makes metacognition tangible
The physical act of writing down an idea and placing it into the connected thoughts of peers is powerful and supports not only individual metacognition, but also nurtures a collaborative culture of thinking.