Educator of the Month: An Interview With Joe Reo

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Joe Reo, a teacher at the Albert Greenfield School in Philadelphia has been a top pilot teacher since joining the CueThink community. I had the opportunity to sit down with Joe and talk about his students’ experiences with the App, how he has managed the student work and the successes he has seen from the beginning of the pilot.

Joe got started with CueThink through his work at Drexel University in Philadelphia. The “word of mouth” buzz piqued Joe’s interest and he began to look more closely at what CueThink had to offer. After becoming a pilot teacher, Joe’s students have created, completed and annotated over 2000 thinklets! Now Joe's students engage with thinklets as if they are posting them to Youtube. As Joe said,  “They are creating this little slide show of their solution. They almost see themselves as a YouTube star. Really what they are doing is coming up with a solution for a math problem and they are thinking through processes.”

A couple of pieces of advice from Joe:

How Joe manages student work: 

Using the CueThink Rubric feature is a great way to review student work. The rubric function makes it easy to listen to a thinklet and give students feedback in a timely way.  If you are crunched for time - review one section of a thinklet and use annotations for feedback. Joe says grading 75 thinklets each week can be challenging. What he’s done to get through some weeks is to use a rubric “because it really breaks down the phases pretty simply.” Joe can watch a thinklet and give it a number score quickly. Other times, if he knows he is crunched for time he will just check the notice and wonder phases. However, he says,  “No matter what always leave an annotation.”

CueThink Resources to think about managing assessment include:

Joann Wang’s blog: Using Rubrics to Evaluate Thinklet is a great place to start. She gives pointers on who to review and assess student work so not only is it informative, but manageable. In the CueThink Resource Bank, we have created a graphic organizer of the rubric for you to use with your students. 

Planning for one thinklet a week works!

Have the students use Cuethink once a week to see steady progress. Joe assigns a problem once a week as a part of his regular classroom practice. This simple step has allowed students to take ownership of the app. Joe suggests, “One thinklet a week really allows my students to work through each phase. Part of how I've done it is I focused on the actual problem...The problems are easily differentiated. What I do is that I post a scenario and remove the question. The last sentence of every math problem or every word problem is a question. I find that many students always focus on that one sentence. So, students start looking into the body of that scenario and pulling out different numbers’ instead of focusing on the question.   

Resources to think about to structure thinklets into your practice:

Think about CueThink as a personalized learning tool. Use the idea of playlists to build time for students to use CueThink to develop critical thinking skills.  The Cult of Pedagogy has a great post about playlists and how to set them up in your classroom. Using ideas such as Genius Hour and Station Rotation are natural instruction designs to foster consistent student use.

A Final Thought….

Over the course of working with Joe, his passion for his students becoming problem-solvers was infectious. At one point, Joe shared with me a success story about a student who was struggling in math. He talked about how the student was able to visualize her thinking. Not only did it help Joe see the assets this student brought to the classroom, but from his perspective, “this creative thinker is now able to express herself creatively, artistically and mathematically. It's really all because of these fun little thinklets that we're doing each week and that's pretty amazing.”