Grade: 3, Technology Access: 1:1 Chromebooks
What was your overall goal in using CueThink with your students?
My overall goal was finding an application that helps students learn new math strategies and figure out cognitively demanding word problems. It feels like a lot of math applications out there are great but focused more on fluency. I wanted something geared more towards deeper level thinking that also covered more standardized testing strategies using technology. My students use technology for testing, so it was also important to hone their technology skills in Math.
How did you structure your use of CueThink with your students?
I used CueThink in my teacher-led station during Station Rotations to introduce it to students in small groups first. I chose to do this to guide them through the process so they would create high quality thinklets. It took about three solid problems in small groups for my students to understand the expectations and become independent.
In their very first problem, I modeled how I would solve the problem, then my students completed the same problem as an independent station to explore and become familiar with the process. Then, I used three problems in my teacher-led station to set expectations. I gradually introduced the whiteboard tools in the Solve Phase two at a time over the course of the three problems.
Once my students were comfortable independently using CueThink, I incorporated it 3-4 times a week during independent Station Rotations as a Computer Station. Each session in the Computer Station was about 15-20 minutes.
On Mondays, I introduced the problem to my students as a whole class mini-lesson. Then, they began completing the Understand and Plan Phases for the remainder of the math class. On Tuesdays, they completed the Plan and Solve Phases during the Computer Station. On Thursdays, they viewed and annotate peers’ thinklets during the Computer Station. On Fridays, I built in an optional extra catch up time for any students that needed extra time to finish, especially being an inclusion school to compensate for students of all abilities.
Every other week, I focused on a debrief on Friday. I reviewed my students’ thinklets and picked one based on how well the student described his/her work and explained the strategies used. I displayed it to the whole group and had students discuss why they thought I chose that particular one.
I used CueThink with all my students, except for a few who were on a modified curriculum. Many of my students had a print disability so we used Google Read and Write with CueThink to make problems more accessible with the text to speech feature.
How did CueThink most impact your students and your instructional practices?
My students had a lot more accountability, pride and confidence as math thinkers. Many students that would normally shy away when asking questions, there they were speaking up and explaining their strategies! Normally, I don’t hear their voice in math class and I was able to hear them explaining their thinking and could really tell they understood the concept.
I got my students to love math! We had Literacy Night at school and some students grabbed their Chromebooks to show their work and within minutes they all had CueThink up to show their parents! They were hooked! Everytime I mentioned we had a CueThink Station they all cheered and were so excited.
Working in CueThink wasn’t all procedural. I had them thinking deeply, and by partnering them up, it enabled my students to develop their team building skills. It brought a sense of community to my classroom through seeing and responding to each other’s work. Struggling students got awesome, encouraging comments through annotations from their peers.
For me, it made me think smarter about my teaching. Sometimes, with a technology station, it’s just busy work for students. But with CueThink, I had to think about the skill I was teaching that week and assign a problem that would be meaningful work for my students to better their understanding of math concepts. It made me more accountable for my planning. It also gave me a better idea of where my students are - through a 30 second video clip I can see if they understood the math concept.
Teachers are always refining and improving their craft. How do you plan to use CueThink differently in the future?
There’s a couple different ways I might use CueThink differently. When introducing CueThink to my students, I might give them a problem to complete on paper first using the 4 Phase graphic organizer before using the technology.
When I debrief on Fridays, I might have my students review all the thinklets and have them write down which one they think I should show as an example of who explained their work well. Then I’ll pick one from their comments to give them a sense of responsibility.
I like using CueThink in stations. I may have a paraprofessional and student teacher this year in my classroom. If so, I might put them in charge of facilitating the CueThink station to help my students fully explain their strategies and thinking to create high quality thinklets.
With my co-teacher, we may use two different problems in the same class to better differentiate for our students.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to a teacher who's just starting with CueThink?
Make it fun! We had a lot of fun using CueThink with our students.