Mind Tools for Students

“Do not indoctrinate your children. Teach them how to think for themselves, how to evaluate evidence, and how to disagree with you.” – Richard Dawkins

Recently, we wrote about how metacognition helps students improve their learning. To follow up on that article, we took a look are some popular mind tools that support the development of our children’s metacognitive skills.

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning was designed to encourage higher forms of thinking in students, such as analyzing and evaluating concepts, processes, procedures, and principles, instead of merely remembering facts.

Image Source: Te@ch Thought

Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats

Six Thinking Hats is a powerful and practical thinking tool that provides a framework to help people think clearly and thoroughly by focusing their attention in one direction at a time. It facilitates productivity: critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity.

Image Source: MKK School

CoRT Thinking Tools

Image Source: de Bono for Schools

CoRT is another set of quick thinking tools from de Bono that help students develop good lifelong thinking skills.

  • PMI = Plus, Minus, Interesting
  • CAF = Consider All Factors
  • OPV = Other People’s Views
  • FIP = First Important Priorities
  • C&S = Consequences & Sequels
  • AGO = Aims, Goals, Objectives
  • APC = Alternatives, Possibilities, Choices
  • Rules = Make Life easier and Better
  • Planning = Thinking Ahead to Get Things Done
  • Decisions = Think Clearly and Thoroughly

Guidelines for using CoRT:

  • Use one thinking tool at a time
  • Thinking tools may be used in any order
  • Choose the tools that make sense for your thinking challenge
  • Be deliberate about your thinking rather than reactive
  • Use the tools objectively with an open mind to broaden perception rather than defending a particular view

Tony Ryan’s Thinker’s Keys

The Thinkers Keys have been developed to increase the depth of a students thinking in everyday learning. They consist of 20 different activities designed to engage and motivate learners through a range of divergent thinking tasks that broaden and deepen their thinking, and promote higher order thinking.

Image Source: Learning 21st Century Snapshot
  1. The Reverse – Challenges Children to think of the never, cannot
  2. The What If – A what if question, come up with solutions
  3. The Disadvantages – List disadvantages and Improvements
  4. The Combination – List attributes of both, then combine
  5. The Alphabet – Come up with something for each letter of the Alphabet
  6. The B A R – Bigger, Add, Replace acronym. Come up with a solution for each
  7. The Variations – How many ways can you…
  8. The Picture – Draw a picture/diagram
  9. The Prediction – Make a prediction
  10. The Different Uses – Find 10 different uses for…
  11. The Ridiculous – Try to justify a ridiculous statement
  12. The Commonality – Find common points between…
  13. The Question – Come up with 5 questions for…
  14. The Brainstorming – Brainstorm solutions for…
  15. The Inventions – Design a …
  16. The Brick Wall – Consider alternatives to…
  17. The Construction – Construct a… Materials…
  18. The Forced Relationships – Come up with a solution to a problem involving two dissimilar objects
  19. The Alternative – Work out 3 ways to…
  20. The Interpretations – Give 3 possible explanations for…

Growth Mindsets

We’ve written a lot about this before:

Image Source: Wayfaring Path

Mindset Programs:

Memory Tactics

Rote learning has become passé in the new age of education as we push towards greater understanding in learning. However, regardless of how distasteful rote learning has become, there will always be a need for it. You will have noticed that in Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning, the first step in the progression of learning is to “remember” because if you can’t remember it, you can’t move forward. So here are some memory tactics that will help with remembering new things…


Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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