The deep sighs and collective groans of “not again” from the seniors in my English classes felt like an urgent plea for change. They were eager for fresh activities and strategies to spice up their learning experience. Admittedly, I needed to move beyond the Think-Pair-Share and Muddiest Point approaches that were almost second nature after more than a decade in the classroom. During my quest to find new ways to effectively and efficiently enhance my lessons, I found an intriguing strategy called Hexagonal Thinking.
What is Hexagonal Thinking?
Hexagonal Thinking is a highly effective way to encourage critical thinking and discussion in the classroom. It has its roots in the world of business and innovation and is now making its way into classrooms. It can lead to rich discussions and higher-order thinking and provides a variety of ways to engage students.
For me, Hexagonal Thinking was the perfect culminating task for a Dystopian literature unit. Students had a choice to read two iconic novels, George Orwell’s “1984” or “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. I gave them a number of opportunities to explore the characters, themes, setting, and literary elements. I made sure students were well prepared for robust conversations about their choice novels at the end of the unit.
On the day of the activity, I split students into groups of four to six people. Each group received the same set of 20 hexagons labeled with various themes, ideas, characters and elements from the two novels. I tasked students with constructing the most intricate web possible by interconnecting and refiguring the hexagons while explaining their choices. The engagement and analysis between the students during the activity was insightful and responsive. My seniors shared feedback on how much they enjoyed the activity and appreciated that it didn’t feel like a traditional assessment.
To learn more, download our customizable Hexagonal Thinking template here.
The Magic Beyond the Classroom
The allure of Hexagonal Thinking extends beyond the walls of the classroom. It’s a tool that works in a variety of settings. Last year, my team and I introduced the strategy during a work event. Watching senior level executives drawing and coloring hexagons was a delightful scene. The interaction and collaboration with colleagues moved beyond mundane reports and slideshows and made our shared space more comfortable.
To learn about using Hexagonal Thinking as an icebreaker or team building activity check out this TikTok.
Journey to Inspiration
On my journey to find new ways to inspire and enhance my students’ learning experiences, I discovered a versatile teaching strategy. Whether you’re using it to break the ice among adults or to compare and contrast texts in the classroom, Hexagonal Thinking is a great option for encouraging thoughtful discussions and meaningful interactions. The educational field is often characterized as stagnate, but for those committed to fostering lifelong learners, sometimes, all it takes to revitalize a classroom practice is a hexagon or two.