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What are the Thinkers Keys?
The Thinker's Keys were first introduced by Tony in 1980 and are an effective way to introduce different ways of higher-order thinking to students. The 20 Thinkers Keys can be easily included in contract activities, homework tasks, journal writing activities, extension tasks and as part of a Bloom's and Multiple Intelligence approach to teaching and learning.

Who is Tony Ryan? Tony Ryan is an Australian professional speaker, author and publisher. As manager of two training and publishing companies (HeadFirst and Thinkers Keys), he consults to educational and corporate bodies throughout the world on innovative thinking and life-long learning. He is the author of many books, including Mindlinks, Wrapped In Living and The Ripple Effect. Click here for Tony's Clever Country Kit and Home Page


What is the purpose of each Thinkers Key?
The Reverse
Place words such as 'cannot', 'never' and 'would not' in sentences which are commonly displayed in listing format.
The What If
Ask a 'What if...' question. Learners record their thinking in a graphic organiser.
The Alphabet
Compile a list of words from A to Z.
The BAR
The acronym - BAR can be used to improve on the design of everyday objects - B=Bigger, A=Add, R=Remove or Replace
The Construction
Construction problem-solving tasks that required the creative use of everyday materials.
The Disadvantages
List the disadvantages, then list some ways of correcting them.
Different Uses
List different uses for a chosen object from an area of study.
The Prediction
Predict possible outcomes to a set of given circumstances or a particular situation.
The Picture
A simple picture/diagram is presented and learners try to work out ways in which it could be linked into the theme or unit of work.
The Ridiculous
Learners are presented with a ridiculous statement and they have to attempt to substantiate it.
The Commonality
Learners are presented with two objects which have little to do with each other and they have to find points of commonality.
The Inventions
Learners are encouraged to develop inventions which are constructed in an unusual manner or using unusual materials.
The Alternatives
Learners list ways in which to complete a task without using the normal tools or implements.
The Question
Start with an answer - learners try to list questions which could give only that answer.
The Brainstorming
State a problem which needs to be solved.
Forced Relationship
Learners develop a solution to a problem by employing a number of dissimilar objects.
The Combination
List the attributes of two unmatched objects, then combine the attributes to create a new or better product.
Interpretation
Describe an unusual situation and ask learners to think of some different explanations for the existence of that situation.
The Brick Wall
Make a statement which could not generally be questioned or disputed, and then try to break down the wall by finding other ways of dealing with the situation.
The Variations
Students find many ways to overcome an obstacle or solve a problem.

How might I use the Thinker's Keys?
The Thinkers Keys?
Planning to use Tony Ryan's Thinkers Keys?Simple Thinker's Keys template
Why Reinvent the Wheel classroom templates

Thinkers Keys for Kids download: http://www.tonyryan.com.au/blog/wp-content/uploads/Thinkers_Keys_Version1.pdf
New Zealand Thinker's Keys
The Thinkers Keys Matrix
Thinkers Keys Activity Sheets
Thinkers Keys for Printing

How have other teachers used the Thinkers Keys?
Weather Thinker's Keys
Saving the World" Thinkers Keys
Commonwealth Games Contract Activities
Being Respectful Contract Activities
Christmas Thinkers Keys
Chocolate Cookies Thinkers Keys
Alphabet Your Holidays

Where can I go for more information?

Thinkers Keys in the Classroom
Using Thinkers Keys in Math


external image tksbox.jpgWhat are the Thinkers Keys Cards?
The Thinkers Keys are twenty powerful strategies for generating quality intellectutal discussion and/or activity in everyday classroom practice. In the latest version, the Thinkers Keys have been rewritten, and placed on a set of brightly coloured and informative A5 cards. The
Critical / Organisational (the 10 purple ones). When you need to get yourself organised, these are the cards for you. They encourage you to do your research, to evaluate your information, and to place any necessary tasks into action.
Creative (the 10 Orange ones). When you want to generate all-new ideas, or to develop some different perspectives on an issue, then these Cards will do the job!

How might I plan using the Thinkers Keys Cards?
Quality planning frameworks will often include these following factors:
• An explicit focus on an inquiry task that is intellectually rigorous. As much as anything else, this is more likely to generate a higher level of thinking during that unit study.
• A clarification of the core understandings that you wish to encourage during the study. Students need to know what it is that they will understand by the completion of the learning.
• One unit question (although there may sometimes be up to three) that directly refers to the core understandings. These socratic questions would challenge at the highest possible intellectual levels eg in using The Real Issue card, you may eventually decide upon: What is a quality life?
• A list of the Thinkers Keys near the top of the Unit outline, as a reminder of the possible processes that can be used during the study. Then include them in the planning, and even use a different colour (eg orange or purple) when you write them into the plan.

What should I consider when using the Thinkers Keys Cards?
Core Issue 1. Ethics. Be aware that thinking can be a subversive activity. You must teach thinking from an ethical perspective. The last thing we all want to see are 8 or 14-year olds applying their thinking to destructive and unethical practices. When you facilitate learning tasks, instil core values that advance local and global humanity.
Core Issue 2. Collective Intelligence. Encourage young people to co-create (perhaps, even eco-create) in online and offline environments. Develop learning network environments that draw on the collective thinking and energy of people working together. Thinking is enhanced through collaborative activity that is based upon deep collective purpose, mutual trust, and a desire to engage in pro-social dialogue.
Core Issue 3. Teacher rolemodelling. The most critical model for student thinking is the teacher. Anything else that has been outlined in this booklet will be much more effective if you rolemodel the use of these processes during your engagement with your students. Demonstrate the quality of your own thinking at every opportunity.