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The six thinking hats is a process developed by Dr. Edward de Bone-o that divides thinking into six distinct roles. While originally developed to help teams and corporations, this model works well to support student group discussions by helping students approach a topic from different perspectives, broaden their understanding of an issue, or generate new solutions.


Using the six thinking hats model, each student wears (literally or metaphorically) one of the specific hats at a time.

The six hats are:

  • White, meaning Facts only
  • Yellow, which stands for optimism and benefits
  • Black, which represents Caution and challenge
  • Red, which stands for Emotion
  • Green, which represents Creativity, and
  • Blue, which is the observer or moderator role

You could facilitate discussion with this topic in any of these four adaptations:

  1. With the whole class, the teacher asks for responses focusing on one “hat” at a time. This is a great way to introduce students to each hat and to challenge them to think in new ways.
  2. With a large group, have students identify the perspective that they’re sharing from when they speak their idea. They can choose from any of the six hats, but must identify the perspective that aligns with their response. This is a great way for students to identify patterns in their own thinking.
  3. As a way to generate a broad variety of ideas, divide the class into small groups and assign each group one specific thinking hat and encourage them to generate ideas from only this perspective.
  4. Again with small groups, probably groups of six, assign a different hat to each student within a group. You can also rotate the hats within the group, so students have the opportunity to “try on” other hats and try thinking from different perspectives.

After discussing, have students reflect on the process.


Learn more at the Debono Group website.

Watch the video:

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