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TED Talk Tuesday: Games and Fun

In today’s TED Talk Tuesday, Jane McGonigal offers the premise that games (video games) can change the world in meaningful and positive ways. She builds her case convincingly.  I am currently reading Daniel Pink’s book Drive.  There are some similar ties between the two ideas.  Blissful...

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Post-it Plus: Digitize your Post-it Notes and take brainstorming with you!

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Classroom Management, Create, Evaluate, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources | Posted on 18-11-2014

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Post-it Plus: take your brainstorm sessions with you!

What it is: Post-it Notes are among my very favorite office supplies. I use them for brainstorming, my calendar, to jot down reminders, and to collect the brilliant ideas that happen in the middle of the night. At Anastasis, we use Post It Notes constantly to help organize brainstorm sessions and lines of inquiry during an inquiry block. As you might imagine, we use TONS of Post-it Notes during any given week! They are hard not to love, brightly colored squares just waiting to collect brilliance and post it for the world to see. Recently, I stumbled on an app, Post-it Plus, that takes my love of sticky notes to a whole new level! Post-it Plus is an app that lets you snap pictures of a Post-it note brainstorm session, and then arrange, refine, and organize the notes on a virtual board. The newly organized digital board can then be shared out.  Students can capture 50 Post-it notes at a time and collect and combine ideas from multiple categories. Notes can be organized on a grid, or free form any way that you would like. Boards can be shared via email, PowerPoint, Excel, Dropbox, by PDF, etc. After the work has been shared, anyone can help contribute and arrange the notes to create a great idea! The app is free and optimized for iOS 8.

How to integrate Post-it Plus in your classroom: Post-it Plus is a great way for students to capture their brainstorms and group work so that they can take it with them.

Collaboratively brainstorm with your class or explore some different lines of inquiry and record each new thought on a sticky note. Students can then take a picture of the group on their iOS devices and arrange and group in a way that best makes sense to them. Now all of your students can manipulate the sticky notes individually and bring their learning with them.

As students are writing (either creative or informational), they can write each new idea or paragraph on a different sticky note. Then they can arrange their notes and take a picture. As they create different arrangements, they can use the digital version to compare with the original to make decisions about the flow of their writing.

Teach young students? Write down the different parts of a story (beginning, middle, supporting details, end) on several sticky notes. Students can snap a picture of the notes and practice sequencing the story. Each student has the digital version, so each can practice ordering and you can quickly assess their understanding.

Post-it Plus could also be used for phonics work. Write phonemes on individual sticky notes and ask students to take pictures of each phoneme with the app. Then call out words that students can create with their phonemes in the app.

Post-it Plus is also fantastic for students learning math processes (order of operations anyone?) and algebraic thinking. Write each part of an equation down and students can manipulate the digital sticky notes to show process.

Students can also use Post-it Plus to categorize and organize ideas and events in history, science, government, etc. How We Got to Now anyone? :)

Tips: I can’t tell you how many conferences I’ve been to that we used Sticky notes to brainstorm ideas. Post-it Plus makes it easy to take that thinking and learning with you in a very practical form that you can interact with later! Speaking of conferences, the 5 Sigma Edu Conference is a great one to test out this app!

Math Class Needs a Makeover: videos, inquiry, math stories and more

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Blogs, Create, Download, Evaluate, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Math, professional development, Teacher Resources, TED Talk Tuesdays, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 18-06-2013

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What it is:  I’ve had the great fortune of time to go through my Google Reader favorites this week as I prepare for the shutdown (still bitter about that!).  The unexpected benefit I’ve had from Google Reader’s demise? The forced opportunity to go back through and be reminded of some of the truly amazing people and resources in education.  Dan Meyer is one of my all time favorite math geniuses.  He reminds us that math is more than computation, it is a frame of mind and an outlook on the world.  If your math program isn’t that…it is time to change!  As I went back through the resources of Dan’s that I had tagged, I re-watched his TEDx Talk: Math Class Needs a Makeover.  If you haven’t seen this TED Talk, or haven’t watched it in a while…now is the time.  I’ve embedded the talk above for your viewing pleasure…you don’t even have to go anywhere!  If you have watched it recently, be a friend and share it with someone else.

Dan also has some other really useful mathspiration.  His blog, dy/dan, is a source of math prompts and discussions that will have you thinking beyond computation. 101Questions is a project that encourages students to think about math through photo prompts and inquiry.  Graphing Stories is STINKING fantastic, Dan offers a printout for your students, they can then watch any video and graph the story.  AWESOME describes this resource. Three Act Math is a curricula that Dan developed, click on the links within the doc to get to the resources.  Again…AWESOME. Geometry curricula offers you Dan’s handouts, pdfs, powerpoint and keynote presentations.  Algebra curricula offers the same.

THANK YOU Dan for sharing your passion for mathematics, your inspiration for those of us who aren’t as naturally inclined to geek out about math, and for your openness of resources.

How to integrate Dan Meyer’s awesomeness into the classroom:  Dan makes it really easy for you to integrate his methods into your classroom.  Everything you need from inspiration, to mathematical story sets, to curricula materials is available.  If you teach math, the obvious place to start is with the type of math that you teach.  Dan’s resources are mostly intended for high school students use.  However, as I looked through his resources again, I think they could be appropriate for students in elementary school as well.

101Questions is a great way to have your kids enter an inquiry mindset as they approach math.  These are photos that ask your students what the first thing that comes to mind is.  Students can type in their answer and get a new prompt.  These would be a great way to start your class using a projector or interactive whiteboard.  Have your class inquire and come up with questions together.  Students can also do this as an independent activity and then share their questions with other students.

Graphing Stories speaks for itself.  Again, it is geared toward secondary students, but I think that given enough support, primary students would really enjoy engaging math this way too.  (Sometimes we don’t give students enough credit for where an interest can take their thinking.  Case in point: Anastasis 2nd and 3rd graders who know Fibonacci inside and out. Normally you wouldn’t see the concept until high school or later.)

The Three Act Math is also a favorite of mine.  Use Dan’s three acts, or use his as inspiration for creating your own!

Dan’s resources hit on every level of Bloom’s Taxonomy…that alone is good reason to stop reading this and go on your own exploration!

Tips: Dan is great to follow on Twitter...a constant stream of 140 character mathspiration!

How are you using Dan Meyer’s Awesome in your classroom?  Leave a comment below!

Dragon Box: a game for students to learn algebra…secretly

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Download, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Software | Posted on 22-04-2013

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      Dragon Box

 

What it is: Dragon Box has got to be the most brilliant game for teaching a new concept I have seen in a LONG time.  I am SO impressed with this app, I can’t say enough about it!  This is a math game that teaches algebra without you really realizing that it is a math game teaching you algebra.  It feels more like a logic card game than anything else.  There are 200 puzzles that secretly teach kids to solve equations.  They unlock each level by figuring out how to balance an equation (you have to isolate the dragon on one side of the board in order for him to emerge). After each level, he grows a little until he is full-grown.  Students learn concepts such as elimination, fractions and isolating variables throughout the game.  This is the best math app I’ve seen. It is NOT a drill/skill type app. It is actually teaching students to think like mathematicians instead of just asking them to solve a bunch of problems.

How to integrate Dragon Box+ into the classroom: I cannot say enough about this app.  The way that it gets kids thinking is completely fantastic.  Students learn algebra and how to think like mathematicians without even realizing it.  The game gives minimal direction, and invites students to explore and try new things to isolate the dragon.  The best way to use this app in this classroom: just let students start playing with it!  I love that this app could be played by students as young as six years old successfully, but also used by high school students where they would get those “aha” moments of understanding how algebra works that they may have missed along the way.

Put your students in teams, or let them explore Dragon Box independently.  Dragon Box allows for multiple logins, so you could even use it as a classroom center rotation.

Because you can download Dragon Box on multiple device types, you could even use this on a classroom computer connected to an interactive whiteboard or a projector and take turns playing as a class.  There are plenty of levels for every child to participate multiple times.

Price: $5.99

Devices: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPod Touch (3rd-5th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS4.0 or later

Tips:  Dragon Box is also available on the Mac App Store, Google Play, PC shop, Amazon Appstore for Android, and Windows Store.  Even if you don’t have iDevices, your students can play with Dragon Box!

I’ve been nominated for a Bammy Award for Educational Blogger.  I’d appreciate your vote to help spread the word about iLearn Technology.  Vote here.  Thank you for your continued support!!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Dragon Box in your classroom.

Math Trail: Powered by GoogleMaps

Posted by admin | Posted in Geography, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 02-04-2013

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What it is: Math Trail is a neat way for students to explore virtual trails that lead to a variety of locations connected by a theme.  Along the way, students put their math and geography skills to the test.  The trail list currently has eight trails to choose from, with varying degrees of difficulty.  Students can choose an Olympic trail, 7 Wonders, Towers, Rivers, Eminent Mathematicians, Famous Islands, Cricket or Ramanujan trails. To begin, students choose a trail and then click on the “start” button.  A list of instructions pops up.  In each trail, math questions are hidden around the map.  Students zoom in within the map to the location suggested by the clue.  There are little balloons located all over the map.  If students struggle to find the location, they can click the “show location” button at the bottom.  At the bottom of the page, there is a white box that holds clues.  When students reach a location, they are given a math challenge to complete.  At each location, students have the opportunity to earn a gold coin.

How to integrate Math Trail into the classroom:  I like the integration of history, geography, social studies and math in this game.  Students aren’t just going through a series of multiple choice math problems.  Instead, students are set forth on a journey and asked to locate various places according to the clues given.  This means that as their math skills are put to the test, they are exercising that geography muscle as well!  I don’t know what it is about maps, but they are just fun to explore.  The treasure hunt nature of Math Trail keeps it interesting.  Students get math practice and geography practice along the way.  This beats the practice set that is in the textbook!

I found some of the “low” and “medium” level questions to be challenging.  Before playing with students, go through the trails to find the challenge that is most appropriate for your students.  This could mean that you have students playing different trails.  The low end seems to be 6th-7th grade math with the Medium being middle school and the High being high school.

These trails are great for exploring on their own, but you could have students go through a trail together using the interactive whiteboard.  Give each student an opportunity help the class search for the location (the class can help or bring in a Google search for particularly difficult clues).  Each student can work out the math problem on their own and then come to a consensus of which answer to play in the game.

Tips: I wish that Math Trail provided a cheat sheet of all of questions in the game so that teachers could choose a trail for their students at-a-glance.  If anyone has done this, let us know where to find it!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Math Trail in your classroom.

Media 4 Math: Math in the News

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Math, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials, Websites | Posted on 10-12-2012

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What it is: Media 4 Math: Math in the News helps students view current events through the “prism of mathematics.”  Every week features a new story that makes headlines and the underlying mathematical story gets extracted.  The Math in the News site is a little bit confusing to navigate at first (it isn’t really clear where to find each issue of Math in the News).  Scroll down to see an archive of stories.  Each entry has a Slideshare version of the presentation, a YouTube version or the Math in the News app version.  These presentations are full lessons with embedded background knowledge articles and videos, data  sets, current event explanations and a walk through of how to solve.

In addition to Math in the News, Media 4 Math also has Math Tutorials, Promethean Flipcharts, Powerpoint slideshows, Math Labs, Print Resources, a Video Gallery, Math Solvers and more.  I really like the Math Solvers, students can choose a problem type, input their own data and see a breakdown of how to solve the problem.  The Math Labs include PDF worksheets and YouTube Videos that lead them through real-math problem sets.

How to integrate Media 4 Math: Math in the News into the classroom: Media 4 Math: Math in the News is a fantastic way to help your students make the connection between the upper-level math they are learning and life. I’m fairly certain that every math teacher in history has heard “what are we ever going to use this for?”  This site helps students not only see that math is everywhere, but also walks them through how to think mathematically.  There are plenty of resources that walk students through common mathematical functions.  This site is a great supplement to any math curriculum!

With new content weekly, your curriculum will be fresh and relevant!  Share Math in the News using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer, as a math center on classroom computers, individually with laptops or iPads, etc.   Flip your math class and have students explore a Math Tutorial to prepare them for the next day of learning.  Then they can test a few scenarios in Math Solvers and come up with their own explanation of the concept.  In class, students can work with you to solidify and practice the learning.

Tips: Sign up for the free weekly newsletter to have Math in the News delivered right to your inbox.  Do you have a classroom iPad?  Math in the News now has an app!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Math in the News in your classroom.

Yummy Math! Best Math Blog EVER

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Art, Evaluate, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 18-10-2012

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What it is:  Yummy Math is an absolutely fabulous blog/site dedicated to helping students and teachers understand how math is relevant to the world.  What a great mission!  The blog was started 2 years ago…bummed that I am only JUST discovering it.  Brian Marks and Leslie Lewis are the creators of Yummy Math.  They have worked together to make an easy way for teachers to bring real-world math into the classroom.  Math (like everything else) should be taught within a context.  I believe this is key!  When understood in context, students can make connections to their learning and, as a result, really learn it.  The goal here is to engage students in math so that they yearn to reason, think critically, problem solve, question and communicate…in short: DO math!  Each week, multiple activities and ideas are added to the Yummy Math site.  This means that you are in constant supply of real-world math problems for your students to engage in.

Categories include:

  • Algebra
  • Data and Probability
  • Geometry
  • Number Sense
  • Sports
  • Holidays/annual events
  • Math and Science
  • Math and Food
  • Math and Social Studies
  • Math and Art
  • Movies and Entertainment

How to integrate Yummy Math into the classroom: You know that dry math curriculum that you feel TRAPPED by?  Yummy Math exists to free you (and your students) from the endless memorization and unconnected practice.  This is the perfect supplement to any math program.  Use these activities a few times a week to really get your students thinking outside of the (math) box.  These will stretch your students, and help them grow exponentially in their understanding of math and all of the cool things it makes possible.

These are not your typical “real” world word problems.  None of that, if train a is traveling north at x, and train b is traveling south at y what time will they meet? Garbage.  This is…what is the real cost of owning an iPhone 5?   or  The House of Representatives passed a law in 2007 to increase the efficiency of light bulbs, what is the real energy savings that can be realized with CFL and LED.  Not only relevant, but really interesting!

Tips: You know what is EXTRA helpful?  That Yummy Math has already done all the leg work to tell you which Common Core Standards these project are meeting.  Yes. They are awesome!

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Yummy Math  in your classroom.

Help me personalize education for EVERY child!  Donate and spread the word about the Learning Genome Project.

Algebra Lab

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Science, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 01-10-2012

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What it is:  Algebra Lab may not be much to look at graphically speaking, but the resources here are pretty stupendous!  Algebra Lab was created by Mainland High School teachers in partnership with Georgia Southern University and a host of student assistance.  The site includes really well done lessons, activities, practice pages (online), study aids, glossary, and word problems.  Algebra Lab is like a free, living textbook.  It has enough substance to help students work their way through algebra, while understanding the connections to how that algebra is used in a practical sense.  I didn’t appreciate Algebra until I took physics and chemistry.  When I saw what those equations I learned were actually used for, I could appreciate the learning requirements in algebra.  Algebra Lab does a beautiful job of helping students learn algebra within a context so that they really get a grasp of what these numbers are doing.

How to integrate Algebra Lab into your curriculum: I have enjoyed watching the debate over Algebra unfold in the last year or so.  One side of the argument asks if it is really necessary that EVERY child be required to take algebra.  The other side argues that algebra has great thinking skills that it develops, it gives students additional tools to understand the world through math.  I’m not sure where I land on this debate.  I don’t know that I believe that algebra should be a requirement for every child, and yet I think that my exposure to algebra was valuable.  Maybe the debate just needs to be reframed…HOW should algebra be taught?  I’m all for things being taught within context.  If you can teach any subject in a way that sheds light on other learning it is valuable.  I love when students make the connections between something like ratios and a site like Miniature Earth.  They not only get excited about the math (yes, really) they see a purpose for wanting to learn more about how it works.  Sometimes I think our job of teachers is really to help students see the overlaps that occur in learning so that they can make connections and have a cause to want to dig deeper.

I digress…

Algebra Lab is a great resource for math (and non-math) teachers.  Here you will find lessons, activities, word problems and practice opportunities for students.  Students can directly access the site, or you (the teacher) can pull ideas out to use within any other teaching you are doing.  The site is great for students to explore on their own (blended learning algebra style) or with guidance from a teacher.  As a non-math teacher, I appreciate the way the site helps me think like a math teacher.  It reminds me how all of these pieces connect to other learning.

Tips: If you have a one-to-one setting, students can practice directly on the website for immediate feedback.  Very helpful!

***Want to do your part as a CHANGE MAKER in personalized education?  Check out, support and spread the word about the Learning Genome Project!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Algebra Lab in your classroom!

Gooru: Fantastic new education search engine

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Open Source, Science, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials, Websites | Posted on 12-07-2012

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What it is:  Gooru is a education search engine for learning that helps teachers find standards aligned content and study guides.  5th-12th grade math and science topics are covered and include resources like digital textbooks, animations and instructor videos.  Gooru provides a place to connect with your worldwide personal learning network to share and ask questions.  Gooru is not just for teachers, students can use the study guides and self assessments to guide learning.  Based on the topics studied and the performance on self-assessments, Gooru begins to suggest resources and study guides to help gain mastery.

Gooru takes advantage of OER (Open Educational Resources) so that all content delivered can be accessed free of charge.

You can explore Gooru through resources, collections, quizzes, a standards library or a search engine.

How to integrate Gooru into the classroom: Gooru is a great step toward helping you personalize the learning experience for your students.  Use Gooru to find resources for your classroom and for individual students.  Invite students to create their own logins so that they can setup Gooru to be tailored to their specific needs.  As they study and take quizzes, Gooru gets “smarter” and begins to recommend content for them.

Gooru is ideal in a 1 to 1 classroom set up.  If you don’t have 1 to 1 access, much of the content can be shared using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Because of the nature of Gooru, it could be a great addition to the flipped classroom model.

Tips:  Gooru is currently in beta, sign up to help them test it out and make it better today!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Gooru  in  your classroom!

Algebra in the Real World movies

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Math, Middle/High School, Science, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 03-02-2012

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What it is:  The higher up I got in math, the less connection I could make back to it’s usefulness in real life.  I had math mastered in school, I could memorize the formulas and spit back out the steps to get straight A’s in algebra, geometry, calculus and even trig.  It wasn’t until I was watching the Social Network movie (as an adult) that I started connecting that higher math to purposes in real life.  That is a problem.  Remember the scene in the Social Network when Zuckerberg is writing algorithms on his window?  I saw that, looked at my husband in astonishment and whispered “I learned that!”.  I had NO idea that trig was actually used for anything.  Seriously.  That is why when I saw Algebra in the Real World movies on Karl Fisch’s Fischbowl blog, I knew it was a site that needed to be shared again.  Algebra in the Real World has mini documentary type films that show the ways that Algebra is used in a variety of jobs and real world scenarios.  Movies include:
  • Aquarium makers
  • Backpack designers
  • Designing stronger skateboards
  • Engineering faster bikes
  • First one in the ball park
  • The forester
  • Landscape architects
  • The Lundberg farms
  • Maglev trains
  • Reliable Robots
  • Roller Coasters
  • Saving the bald eagle
  • Solar power
  • The starshade
  • Structural engineering
  • The surface of Mars
  • Testing the robotic hand
  • The wind business
  • Windsails

Plenty of variety to help students with a variety of interests!

How to integrate Algebra in the Real World movies into the classroom: After seeing the Social Network, I wanted to go back to my high school trigonometry class so that I could connect the dots.  I always really appreciated my physics class because it gave meaning to the algebra classes that I took.  I like that these videos help to make connections between the equations students learn and their uses.  It is nice to have such a good mix of topics so that students with different interests and passions can find one that helps them make the connection.
These videos would be great to share with a whole class as the algebra topic connected with the video is introduced, at the beginning of the school year, or based on student interest level.  Use as an end of the year cap to connect what has been learned throughout the year with the use post classroom.
Tips: The Algebra in the Real World movies are available online or for purchase on DVD.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Algebra in the Real World movies in  your classroom!

Thinking Blocks: Model math word problems with virtual mantipulatives

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Evaluate, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 19-09-2011

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What it is:  Thinking Blocks is a great find by @matthewquigley who was nice enough to share his find and let me take the credit (I may have made up that last part…).  Thinking Blocks lets students model and solve math word problems by using online virtual blocks to visualize the problems in new ways.  Thinking Blocks includes blocks to model addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, fractions, and ratios.  On the Modeling Tools tab, students will find modeling tool videos on addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, fractions, ratios, decimals and percents, and algebra.  These thinking blocks were developed by Colleen King as she worked to help her students in their Singapore Math program.  While the concept of modeling word problems with the blocks is most closely associated with Singapore Math curriculum, it can be used to support any math program and is especially helpful to use with visual learners.  Students can use virtual blocks to model known and unknown quantities.  By modeling in this way, students are better prepared for moving from arithmetic to algebraic thinking because they learn how to break complex problems into their simplest form.   The activities on the Thinking Block website includes guided and independent practice opportunities.  The tutorials can be used for guided instruction.  Videos show worked examples from each section (addition, multiplication, division, fractions and ratios.  Progress tracking is built-in (currently this is only per session but the site notes that sometime in September this should be included for multiple sessions).  The Modeling Tool lends itself to independent practice.  Students can choose from hundreds of built-in word problems or enter their own.  Dynamically generated models let students check their own work.  A full screen option is included for use on interactive whiteboards.

How to integrate Thinking Blocks into the classroom:  Thinking Blocks is a wonderful website for exploring and demonstrating understanding of word problems.  Visual students will be keen on the ability to visualize math in this way, using the virtual blocks to represent word problems.  Because Thinking Blocks addresses so many different math disciplines, it is a great way to differentiate instruction for students at a variety of levels.

Thinking Blocks can be used with the whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  Students can take turns working out word problems on the whiteboard while students at their seats work to arrive at a common solution.  Students at the board can “phone a friend” if they need a little extra help or guidance.

Thinking Blocks would make a fantastic center activity on classroom computers.  Students could visit the center to practice some word problems and record a reflection about how the blocks enabled them to visualize the problem differently.

Be sure to bookmark Thinking Blocks on school computers and let parents know to bookmark the site at home.  I suspect this site could be a life saver for MANY students (I would have been one of them!)

Tips: You can adjust the difficulty of each model by adjusting the numbers addressed before students begin an activity.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Thinking Blocks in  your classroom!