Hexagons. Who knew that bees had the secret to understanding the connections between ideas, concepts and facts? I have been using hexagons with groups of children and teachers over the past year but it took me a while to get it. I had seen them on social media posted by teacher heroes like Russel Tarr (@Russeltarr) and John Mitchel (@Jivespin) and thought they looked interesting, but assumed they were being used for some kind of blockbusters game. I was wrong. It took Ewan McIntosh (@ewanmcintosh) to show me what was going on when I attended one of his workshops at the Practical Pedagogies conference in October. Because of the way hexagons tessellate (love that word) you can group together key words or ideas and ask students to justify the connections between them. They are great for assessing understanding or trying to make sense of ideas. I used the technique with the teaching and learning team at the start of the year to make sense of the challenges we were facing as a school and draw out the key areas for us to focus on. Now I always keep a bag of hexagons handy for teaching or meetings.
What follows is a collection of ways in which hexagons have been used to support learning. If you want a better understanding how they work and the concepts behind them I strongly recommend reading Ewan’s Notosh webpage on “Hexagonal Thinking”.
How to make them?
I don’t recommend buying a Hexagon cutter – they are quite expensive, the hexagons are quite small, and are fine for cutting out the odd one or two, but if you want to make more, cutters can take a while. I suggest using my hexagon template for making them in bulk. Just cut out the strips then chop off the corners (click on the template to see what I mean). Download here.
Hexagon Key word link activity
I got the idea for the template from an idea shared by John Mitchel (@Jivespin). Students place a different key word/phrase etc from your topic in each of the 7 hexagons. In the grid below, student’s explain how each word is linked to the one next to it, e.g. for “A” you would explain how the word in the centre hexagon links to the word in the top hexagon. You can download this here. The Avarasa Academy
The Avasara Academy in Mumbai were kind enough to share the picture at the top of this post of their students using the key word link sheet. I would love to here about your own uses of the resource. If you have any pictures of how you have used the activity please share with me at @LessonToobox and I will post them here.
Lovely examples here from @oldcastleDenise using the hexagon worksheet with students studying the civil rights movement…
Russel Tarr (@RusselTar) has created a hexagon generator on his Classtools.net webpage. Input your phrases into the generator with each one on a new line (maximum: 30) and click ‘submit’ to get generate your hexagons. You can see the hexagons they generate in the pictures below…
Here are some examples from @Jivespin and Mr Logue (@Logue_ED). The pictures can be made using a templates in the Moldiv app (its not one of the free ones, but I don’t think it will break the bank). It looks good which helps to engage learners and students can write round the outside of the template and explain how the pictures are connected. The pictures can be arranged by teachers who can set it up so that the key concept is in the centre, or you could get students to create their own and get them to work our which should be the central idea, concept or person.
Here are some more examples of students using hexagons for learning. Where possible I have tried to reference the sharer. If you see something you have posted and it is not referenced, please let me know and I will add your name.
Transport across cell membranes via @NCEAScience
Cause and effect of social tension in 50-60’s via @MsJoyceTeacher
Hexagons to debate who the villain is in Macbeth via @BorisMcDonald
Used here to demonstrate understanding of the My Lai Massacre by @BBGHistory