Fab Find: Put on Your Thinking Cap with Thinking Blocks

Students will sometimes learn the "rules" of math without truly understanding the "concepts" of math.  Thinking Blocks is a terrific website that gives concrete models to math concepts including:  Addition, Multiplication, Fractions, and Ratios.

When you get to the website, watch the video on the bottom of each model.  It clearly explains how to use the models and would be very useful in explaining this to students.  If you are working with RTI students, Thinking Blocks may provide a great tool and is researched based.  See below:

From the Thinking Blocks Website:
Thinking Blocks and Response to Intervention (RtI) in Mathematics
In the practice guide, Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to Intervention, a panel of researchers and educators identified eight recommendations for supporting students in mathematics. Recommendation 4 addresses the topic of word problems and is strongly substantiated by research.
Recommendation 4
Interventions should include instruction on solving word problems that is based on common underlying structures.*

  • Teach students about the structure of various problem types, how to categorize problems based on structure, and how to
    determine appropriate solutions for each problem type.
  • Teach students to recognize the common underlying structure between familiar and unfamiliar problems and to transfer
    known solution methods from familiar to unfamiliar problems.
Students who use Thinking Blocks not only learn about the underlying structures of word problems; they actually build these structures in both guided and independent practice sections. Even in the guided sections, students have some flexibility in the placement of labels and the arrangement of blocks. For example, a ratio given as 2:5 can be built in either direction (2:5 or 5:2) provided the labels are placed correctly. This flexibility can help students internalize the models more effectively.
* Gersten, R., Beckmann, S., Clarke, B., Foegen, A., Marsh, L., Star, J. R., & Witzel,B. (2009). Assisting students struggling with mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for elementary and middle schools (NCEE 2009-4060). Washington, DC:National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/publications/practiceguides/.

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