Introducing CueThink Using a Math Workshop Session 1: The Understand Phase

The structure of a Math Workshop lends itself to gradually introducing students to CueThink. Then, use CueThink as an independent station rotation and/or in Guided Math groups during Math Workshop.

Targeted small group instruction has been proven to positively impact student learning, particularly with respect to problem solving (Jitendra, Dupuis, Rodriguez, 2012). The structure of a Math Workshop enables teachers to provide small group, need-specific instruction while providing independent practice for students in an engaging and motivating way.

The four main components of a typical one hour Math Workshop includes:

  1. A short 10-minute whole class mini-lesson

  2. 3 small group meetings, typically referred to as Guided Math groups, lasting about 15 minutes each

  3. Independent station rotations concurrently taking place during the 45 minutes Guided Math groups are held

  4. A 5-minute whole class closing

For Math Workshops lasting 90-minutes, the following areas can increase in quantity or the length of time: the whole class mini-lesson, Guided Math groups and independent station rotations.

Over the course of five Math Workshop sessions, gradually introduce CueThink to students by focusing on one phase each session. Select two problems that 80% of students can solve, preferably involving the same content. The first problem will be used during the mini-lessons each day to preview one phase per day. Students will use the second problem to complete as an independent station.

🕒 Adjust the length of each component in Math Workshop to fit your 60 or 90 minutes.

The Session 1: Understand Phase objective is to introduce the Math Forum’s language of “What do you notice?” and “What do you wonder about?” in the Understand Phase to students. Students complete the Understand Phase of a thinklet to demonstrate their understanding.

Begin the whole class mini-lesson by showing an exemplar Handshake Problem (Elementary) thinklet to give students a brief overview of what they will create in CueThink. Ask students, “What do you notice?” and “What do you wonder about?” the thinklet. Focus the rest of the mini-lesson on the Understand Phase by creating a new class thinklet on the problem you selected to use for the mini-lesson.  Encourage students to fill out the “What do you notice?”, “What do you wonder about?” and estimation sections in the Understand Phase. Show students how to access the scrap paper feature to make their estimations.

Ask 3 Before Me

Ask 3 Before Me

During independent station rotations and Guided Math Groups, students begin creating their own thinklets on the second problem you selected. Depending on the number of station rotations you design, allocate a station rotation and, if needed, your guided math group meeting time for students to complete the Understand phase of their thinklet. The goal is for all students to finish the Understand Phase so that the next Math Workshop session can focus on the Plan Phase. Assign a few students the role of Station Captain or use “Ask 3 and Then Me” to help answer peers’ questions with the technology, so you can focus on meeting with Guided Math Groups.

In the 5 minute closing of Math Workshop, engage in a class share out of students’ noticings, wonderings and estimations. Reflect on the CueThink experience for the day by prompting students to share things they enjoyed about CueThink and obstacles they encountered.

Next: Session 2 will look at the strategies in the Plan Phase and how to apply them when solving a problem.



Mathers, Bryan M. "Notice and Wonder - Visual Thinkery." Visual Thinkery. Visual Thinkery, 03 May 2016. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.

"Beginning to Problem Solve with "I Notice, I Wonder” "Beginning to Problem Solve with “I Notice, I Wonder” (n.d.): n. pag. The Math Forum: People Learning Math Together Since 1992. The Math Forum, 2015. Web. 28 July 2016.

Jitendra, A. K., Dupuis, D. N., Rodriguez, M. C., & Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. (2012). Effectiveness of Small-Group Tutoring Interventions for Improving the Mathematical Problem-Solving Performance of Third-Grade Students with Mathematics Difficulties: A Randomized Experiment. Society For Research On Educational Effectiveness.

Schertz. Guided Math And Math Workshop. (n.d.) Eastern Illinois University. Web. 2 Sept. 2016.

Teaching Channel,. Ask 3 Then Me. Web. 29 Aug. 2016.

Van Horn, Stephanie. "Quick Management Tip: Ask 3 Before Me (Repost)." 3rd Grade Thoughts. N.p., 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.