De Bono’s Hats (6-Hat Thinking) Instructions



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De Bono’s Hats (6-Hat Thinking) Instructions.
There are many ways in which this structured thinking activity can be organised. However, the most simple and effective way is as follows:
(Resources: 1 sheet of A3 per group, 1 sheet of A4 per group, a white; yellow; purple and green pen per group, enough red pens per person, your newspaper article {statistical diagrams, etc…..}).


  1. Put students into groups of 4-6 people.




  1. Choose a Blue Hat for each group (or get a volunteer – usually someone who can be controlling without being bossy!) The Blue Hat will be your eyes and ears for this activity. You can’t be everywhere ensuring things are how they should be therefore the Blue Hat needs to do that for you, keeping everyone on task and wearing the correct coloured hat. The blue hat wears their blue hat through the activity but, they also wear each coloured hat as the rounds progress. I.e. they are fully involved in analysing and evaluating the stimulus material as well.




  1. Choose one scribe per group. This could rotate each round.




  1. Get all students in the group to read the given article. (Briefly – just to get an overview). They should be focussing on white hat information. The scribe, in each group, should write down all the white-hat information from the article, using a ‘white’ pen (a pencil is good to use as the ‘white pen’). This information should be written onto the piece of A3 paper, in one ‘white hat’ section. This round should last anywhere between 2 and 5minutes (roughly). The length of each round, apart from the ‘red hat’ round, should be the same. However, it will vary according to your stimulus material and the length of the lesson.




  1. Get ALL students to brainstorm, using their red pens, all their red-hat responses. Again, this should be written onto the sheet of A3 paper. This round should be done in silence as it is a ‘gut reaction’ round so there should be no opportunity for students to comment on what each other have written. This is a very fast round (approximately 30seconds).




  1. Repeat step 4 for the yellow and purple hat. Making sure only ONE student writes the responses onto the A3 paper. Reinforce to the students that all responses should be written, there should be no ‘filtering’. The blue hat should make sure only yellow or purple hat responses are allowed each time (as relevant). E.g. they should stop any negativity during the yellow hat round as this can come during the purple hat round.




  1. On the sheet of A4, get students to reflect on their responses and, using the green pen, get one student to record all the green-hat thinking. This is typically ‘forward’ thinking. Solutions to problems (as outlined during the purple hat round, for example. Or ways of expanding the positives highlighted during the yellow hat round).




  1. Each Blue Hat should now feedback one of their group’s ideas to the whole class. Record the ideas, one by one, onto the whiteboard. Each time allowing the class to discuss the suggestions, for 1 minute or so, in their smaller groups. This group discussion can then be feedback by the Blue Hats. By doing this each group get a chance to think about and discuss ideas which they might not even have thought of, let alone discussed, previously.



You could use the notes taken to provide the structure for an extended piece of writing…..White Hat = introduction, Red Hat = 1st paragraph (giving your opinion), Purple and Yellow Hat = for and against then Green Hat = conclusion (looking forward).
If you don’t want to take this activity forward and are satisfied with using it as an analytical and evaluative process, then simply photocopy each group’s notes in order that they have a record of the lesson for their books.


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