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About Us

Thinking Maps, Inc., is a group of lifelong educators in both sales and consulting committed to one simple idea:

When students know how to think critically, they are equipped to engage in meaningful learning at all levels.

How Do We Grow These Thinking Skills?

It all starts with the teacher. That’s why we focus on building the capacity of teachers to meet the cognitive needs of their students. Our training, teacher materials and online resources are designed to transform teaching and learning so that every student can reach their full potential.

Teacher in front of classroom


"To equip learning communities with the tools they need to nurture successful thinkers, problem solvers, decision makers, and lifelong learners."

Our History

Thinking Maps, Inc. was established in 1990, building on the legacy of Innovative Sciences, Inc. (ISI).

Our roots go back to the 1940s, when Dr. Albert Upton wrote his seminal text,Design for Thinking. ISI, founded in 1970, brought the Upton Model to educators. After years of success by ISI, Dr. David Hyerle created the original Thinking Maps®, visual tools aligned with cognitive processes, in 1988. His work expanded on the Upton Model and created a set of practical tools to help teachers and students put cognitive theory into practice. With the publication of Dr. Hyerle’s Expand Your Thinking, Thinking Maps as we know them today were born.

Sherwin Suddreth acquired ISI in 1990. Together with Dr. Hyerle and others, he refocused the company on professional development to bring Thinking Maps to whole-school learning communities. In 2004, the company was renamed Thinking Maps, Inc. to better reflect our mission and focus.

Since then, we have continued to work with educators and researchers to refine our training and materials and create new programs to meet the needs of our teachers and educational leaders. Write from the Beginning... and Beyond, Path to Proficiency for English Language Learners, and A Language for Leadership were developed in response to needs identified by our Thinking Maps schools.

In January of 2023, Harry Aurora, a serial entrepreneur and a proven edtech leader for more than a decade, along with his group, completed the acquisition of Thinking Maps, Inc. He is the President and CEO of the company.  Harry’s vision is to expand the company’s digital offerings, collaborating with automation and AI tools to foster an eco-friendly platform.  His previous success in the field of edtech will position Thinking Maps for continued success in the years to come.

Thinking Maps



Dr. Albert Upton publishes Design for Thinking, which defined the fundamental thinking processes.

1950s - 1960s

The model is refined by Richard Samson. The “Upton-Sampson Model” demonstrates a 10-point gain in IQ points in a study published by the New York Times.


Innovative Sciences, Inc. (ISI) is founded by Charles Adams using a grant from Prudential to apply the Upton Method to improve the thinking and problem-solving abilities of the workforce.


ISI publishes Analytical Reading and Reasoning (1983) and Mastering Reading Through Reasoning (1985); study shows significant changes in students' cross-discipline reading comprehension performance.


Using the Upton Model as a guide, Thinking Maps® are created by David Hyerle during the writing of Expand Your Thinking.


ISI is acquired by new owners, including the new president, Sherwin Suddreth.


Thinking Maps® resource materials are developed for every elementary grade level and pilot sites are established in 4 states.


Test results show that Thinking Maps significantly affect standardized and qualitative measures of student performance.


Thinking Maps®: Tools for Learning guide for K-12 is published. Implementation continues in over 300 whole schools from 12 states. Thinking Maps software is developed and piloted in schools.


Write... from the Beginning is published. Initially a K-3 writing program, it is later expanded to K-5.

The company’s name is changed to Thinking Maps, Inc.

Thinking Maps®: A Language for Leadership is published, focusing on the use of Thinking Maps by school leaders.


Thinking Maps®: A Language for Learning is published. Co-authored by David Hyerle and Chris Yeager, it replaces the Tools for Learning manual as the seminal training guide for Thinking Maps implementation.


Thinking Maps®: Path to Proficiency for English Language Learners is published, providing practical applications for guiding students from the lowest to the highest levels of language proficiency.


Thinking Maps, Inc. publishes the first installments of Write from the Beginning... and Beyond, expanding on the original Write from the Beginning.

The Thinking Maps Learning Community (TMLC), an online hub focused on improving student achievement through the effective use of Thinking Maps, is introduced.
A major university research study finds that elementary and middle schools using Thinking Maps were roughly 2 times more likely to surpass average growth rates for their districts than schools not using Thinking Maps.

Harry Aurora and his group acquire Thinking Maps, Inc. with a goal of growing the company’s digital offerings and leveraging technology to reach more teachers and students.

Thousands of whole schools from across the United States and many international sites have received in-depth training and follow-up using Thinking Maps.