Facilitating Deeper Learning: Weaving CueThink Into A Math Workshop

Using CueThink for Guided Math groups and independent station rotations in a Math Workshop promotes a goal-driven cycle of targeted small group instruction, independent practice, and reflection on goals to create new ones. Read on to learn how to empower students to take an active role in their learning.

In our first blog series on the Math Workshop, we detailed how to gradually introduce CueThink to your students using the structure of a Math Workshop. Investing a bit more time in the beginning to clearly set expectations and gradually release responsibility to students results in the creation of high quality thinklets and annotations. Student learning in a #makemathsocial environment is enhanced for the majority of the year because students openly communicate questions and ideas and receive high quality, timely feedback from peers.  

The Cyclic Process of Using CueThink In Guided Math Groups and Independent Stations

Once your students are familiar with creating thinklets, incorporate CueThink in Guided Math groups and independent station rotations. Use a cyclic process of Guided Math instruction → Technology Station → Guided Math instruction to facilitate goal-driven targeted small group instruction, independent practice, and reflection during small group instruction. Use a Guided Math session to focus students on one specific goal each time they create a thinklet. The Technology Station provides students with scaffolded independent practice centered around their selected goal. Use another Guided Math session to reflect with students on their independent practice and determine the next course of action to achieve their goal, or select a new one.  

Students visit the Technology Station 3-4 times within the cycle, depending on the length of your rotations. Throughout the cycle students will complete their thinklet, view and annotate peers’ thinklets, and make revisions to their own thinklets based on  peers’ annotations. Students focus on thinklet creation in the first visit (and second if needed). Dedicate the next session to view and annotate peers’ thinklets. Use the final session to make revisions to thinklets based on peers’ feedback, to encourage math as a process of creation, reflection and revision. The goals students selected during Guided Math group are worked on in the Technology Station during the visit that correlates to the process they are working on.

Carry Out The Process

Empower students to take an active role in their learning. Work with students during Guided Math groups to identify one area for improvement to work on independently during the Technology Station. This promotes student agency and a growth mindset by encouraging students to see problem solving as a cyclic process of creation, reflection and revision.

Refine thinklets students already created during the Technology Station or begin thinklet creation during a Guided Math group that students will finish during the Technology Station. Reflect with students on their work in the Technology Station during the Guided Math group to further their growth or select a new goal. Goals can be focused on any of the Four Phases of problem solving and annotations. Listed below are 30-minute lesson plans focusing on a variety of problem solving goals that can be addressed in Guided Math groups.

  1. Unpacking the Problem by Noticing and Wondering

  2. Estimating an Answer

  3. Choosing the Best Strategy to Solve a Problem

  4. Writing a Plan to Solve the Problem

  5. Organization of a Solution to a Multistep Problem

  6. Fostering Mathematical Communication

  7. Written Feedback to Encourage Revision

 

Conclusion...Your Next Steps

Integrate CueThink into your station rotations and Guided Math groups to improve your students’ problem solving skills and math communication. Within the station rotation model, students visit 3-4 stations a cycle. At one station, students create thinklets either individually, or in pairs. In a second station students view and annotate peers’ thinklets. Use other complementary independent stations such as a Technology Station that focuses on skills practice, an Independent Work Station that provides students with differentiated work, and a Math Games station that coincides with the current unit of study’s content and skills, or spirals to review past units and prerequisite skills of upcoming units of study. Finally, station rotations allow for teachers to work with small, targeted Guided Math groups. Guided Math groups can address students’ misconceptions, missing prior knowledge or enhancing problem solving skills using the themes listed above.

Diversify Homework With CueThink: Digitally Extend Your Classroom

Vary and enhance homework to create a digital extension of classroom learning. Youki Terada (2015) asks, “How can we transform homework so that it’s engaging, relevant and supports learning?” Here are some ways that teachers use CueThink to answer that question.

At home, students can:

Preview a problem

Students can begin to create thinklets that they will work on the following day in class. Teachers can ask students to not submit their thinklet to the class gallery so they can continue working on it during class time. Or, teachers can assign students to submit their thinklet, complete or incomplete, to the gallery to receive feedback from peers. After receiving feedback, students can edit their thinklet and submit to create an updated final version. 

Annotate peers’ thinklets

Annotations helps students with CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. Assigning students to write annotations for homework allows students to independently practice giving effective feedback. Introduce the homework assignment with a classroom discussion on what is kind, specific and helpful feedback. Use an exemplar thinklet from the gallery to generate examples of annotations that fit your class criterium. Continued practice with Annotations will support students in learning the importance of digital citizenry and virtual collaboration.

Watch two thinklets that model different strategies

Dr. Matthew Beyranevand wrote “the more strategies and approaches that students are exposed to, the deeper their conceptual understanding of the topic becomes.” Comparing multiple strategies support students in learning how to plan their solution as well as evaluating the effectiveness of a strategy in relationship to a specific skill. Assign a problem for students to review or let students choose from the gallery. After watching both thinklets, students compare and explain which strategy is most effective and why. Comparisons of the two unique strategies can be written as an annotation or on paper.  

Revise a thinklet based on peers’ feedback

In an article, Educating the World said, “Good formative assessment celebrates the student’s successes but also offers strategies for improvement and advice on how to develop a greater depth of knowledge and understanding.” The annotations process provides peer-based formative assessment that students should use to improve their work.  After students receive peer feedback, give students time at the end of class to review annotations and ask clarifying questions. Then for homework, students create a new version of their thinklet that addresses peers’ feedback.

REFERENCES

"Assessment for Learning: “Formative Assessment Is a Verb Not a Noun.” International Education Today. N.p., 26 Aug. 2015. Web. 14 July 2016.

Beyranevand, Matthew. "6 Ways to Help Students Understand Math." Edutopia. N.p., 22 Apr. 2016. Web. 14 July 2016.

Gordon, Norma. "Annotations Tic-Tac-Toe." RSS. CueThink, 4 Aug. 2015. Web. 14 July 2016.


Terada, Youki. "Research Trends: Why Homework Should Be Balanced." Edutopia. Edutopia, 31 July 2015. Web. 06 July 2016.

Introducing CueThink Using a Math Workshop Session 6: Your Next Steps

Session 5 teaches the importance of students checking their work and what appropriate, effective written feedback looks like.

The Session 6: Your Next Steps objective is to integrate CueThink on a regular basis into your independent station rotations and Guided Math groups for the rest of the year. Watch your students’ problem solving skills and math communication blossom over the course of the year with consistent practice.

Use CueThink in one or more independent stations, where students visit the station 3-4 times a cycle, depending on the length of your station rotations. In one independent station, students focus on thinklet creation either individually, or in pairs. It may take students two visits to this station to complete their thinklets. In a second independent station, students view and annotate peers’ thinklets in pairs or small groups to purposely promote student discourse around problem solving. In a second visit to this station, students view the annotations they received and make revisions to promote a growth mindset.

Use other independent stations that complement CueThink, such as another technology station that focuses on skills practice, an independent workstation that provides students with differentiated work, and a math games station that coincides with the current unit of study’s content and skills, or spirals to review past units and prerequisite skills of upcoming units of study. Read Strategies and Activities for Independent Learning (SAIL) by The Meadows Center for classroom management tips and student-led learning centers and stations ideas for K-2 students.

Use CueThink as a tool during Guided Math lessons, to help facilitate mini-lessons on specific areas students need improvement in with the four phases of problem solving and making annotations. Create different levels of problems to better differentiate your instruction during Guided Math groups.

View a Math Workshop follow-up blog on how to use CueThink to connect your Guided Math lessons with independent station practice using a goal driven cyclic process. Empower students to take an active role in their learning!

 

References

"Strategies and Activities for Independent Learning (SAIL)." University of Texas System/Texas Education Agency(2010): n. pag. 2010.  Web. 29 Aug. 2016.
Whirledge, Rebekah. "Digital Citizenship | Oregon Davis." Oregon Davis. N.p., 1 Sept. 2016. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.

Introducing CueThink Using a Math Workshop Session 5: The Review Phase, Viewing and Annotating Thinklets

Session 4 familiarized students with the tools available in the Solve Phase and how to make a recording.

The Session 5: Review Phase, Viewing and Annotating Thinklets objective is for students to understand the importance of checking their work and what appropriate, effective written feedback looks like. Students complete the Review Phase of a thinklet and view and annotate peers’ thinklets to demonstrate their understanding.

Begin the whole class mini-lesson by projecting the Review Phase checklists and posing the question, “Why is it important to review our work in these ways?” Guide students to understand that their thinklets will be viewable in the class Gallery, so that they can learn from each other by watching and discussing their work. Model a think aloud using an exemplar thinklet that makes sense, but does not include units. Watch the whole thinklet and explain how you check for the big picture and evaluate the recording using the second Review Checklist titled “Check Your Recording.” For a second time, watch the thinklet and identify which questions from the first checklist clearly have been answered. A third time, watch the thinklet and thinking aloud about what questions were not answered and how to revise the thinklet to answer those questions.

Lead into a class discussion on digital citizenship and what kind, specific and helpful feedback should look and sound like in the form of written annotations. If relevant, relate the annotations process to students’ experiences with social media. Have students share positive and negative experiences and how the experience made them feel.  What kind of feedback would they like to see from their peers to promote a positive classroom culture and help them get better at math?

Categorize annotations as two types. Compliments or “Stars” are kind and specific. Improvements or “Steps” are kind, specific and help peers revise their work. Watch a thinklet from the Gallery together and model with a think-aloud the process of writing an annotation.  Elicit other examples from students by providing sample sentence starters or prompts such as:

“You did a great job… because …”

“I noticed…”

“I wonder…”

“I like… because …”

“Next time, try to… because …”

Post these sentence starters or provide students with their own copies to reference during their independent work time.

During independent station rotations and Guided Math Groups, students focus on completing the Review Phase of their independent problem and then viewing and annotating 2-3 thinklets.

In the 5-minute closing of Math Workshop, have students share examples of how the Review checklists prompted them to revise their thinklet before submitting to the class gallery. Have students share some of the annotations they made, highlighting examples of kind, specific and helpful feedback.

Next: Session 6 details how to integrate CueThink into your independent station rotations and Guided Math groups for the rest of the year.

Introducing CueThink Using a Math Workshop Session 4: The Solve Phase

Session 3 looked at the purpose and process of writing the steps to solve the problem in the Plan Phase’s Write Your Plan box.

The Session 4: Solve Phase objective is to familiarize students with the tools available in the Solve Phase and how to make a recording. Students complete the Solve Phase of a thinklet to show and explain how to solve the problem and check their work.

Begin the whole class mini-lesson by familiarizing students with the tools and recording process in the Solve Phase using a Do Now activity. Project or hand out a CueThink Icon sheet for students to refer to. Assign students to work in pairs to complete a Do Now Exploration Activity in the Solve Phase.

CueThink Icon Sheet.png

Debrief as a class, addressing any student questions necessary. Close the mini-lesson with the following reminders:

  • Spread out your work on multiple pages of the whiteboard

  • Write out your solution before pressing record to create an efficient 1 - 2 minute recording

  • Use the Highlighter as you are explaining to indicate what part of your work you are talking about

As students become more familiar with the tools in the Solve Phase, they can move towards a think-aloud recording where they are creating their solutions and explaining their work at the same time.

During independent station rotations and Guided Math Groups, students focus on completing the Solve Phase of their independent problem.

In the 5-minute closing of Math Workshop, have 1-2 students play their thinklet recording in the Review Phase for the class. Ask the audience to comment on which tools the presenter used successfully and how those tools clarified the steps to solving the problem.

Next: Session 5 teaches the importance of students checking their work and what appropriate, effective written feedback looks like.