Much to her surprise, Dutton Elementary School teacher Heidi Kruizenga became the noun in the center of a gigantic bubble map, so her kindergartners could surround her with enough positive words to make her burst with happiness.
Principal Shawn Veitch, who popped in unannounced, challenged students to show their Thinking Map knowledge by naming lots of ways to describe their teachers. Teachers are training in Thinking Maps, which Dutton is using in instruction school-wide.
“She always makes us laugh,” said one student as Veitch wrote “funny” on the whiteboard. “Nice,” “Pretty,” “Loving,” “Caring,” “Helpful,” were others. Students also explained their thinking under each adjective: “She wants us to be a good reader,” they added under “Caring.”
Veitch said he wanted to do something fun with the new organizational tool so the school’s 14 teachers could hear how much their students care about them. “Our teachers are so amazing. They love the kids so much,” he said. “They get into that daily grind, and I wanted them to hear what the kids really think of them.”
Dutton teachers are using Thinking Maps — including Circle, Bubble, Double-Bubble, Tree and Flow maps — to guide students, beginning in kindergarten, to organize their thoughts in a systemic way, which enhances problem solving and critical thinking skills, she said. The eight map styles go with the eight processes of thinking, which help students sort details, use descriptions and understand sequencing.
Veitch took a photo of each teacher inside their map to frame as a gift.
“It was very heart-warming,” said a flattered Kruizenga. “It’s really special to hear how their brains are working and the ideas they are connecting, even when applying it to an impromptu activity.”