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Think Boards: Help Your Students To Solve Word Problems And Demonstrate Their Understanding

Updated: Aug 18, 2023

What is a think board?

Today, I wanted to dive into the wonderful world of think boards. So, what exactly is a think board, you ask?

Well, think of it as your trusty sidekick in the classroom—a graphic organiser on steroids! A think board is a super handy tool, whether it's physical or digital, that helps us visually represent ideas, information, and even those tricky thought processes.

3 examples of think boards for maths

Think boards are like magic carpets for our thoughts, giving them structure and organisation. They're all about making critical thinking and problem-solving a breeze for our students (and let's be honest, for us too!).

Now, think boards come in all shapes and sizes, just like our diverse classrooms. They can be as simple as a clean sheet of paper or a blank whiteboard, ready for our artistic genius to unfold. Or, if you're looking for a bit of extra pizzazz, you can find pre-designed templates with funky sections and shapes that make organising information a piece of cake.

Whether you're exploring a new topic, brainstorming ideas, or untangling a complex concept, a think board is your go-to buddy. It helps students connect the dots, see patterns, and spark those "a-ha!" moments.

Why use think boards in the classroom?

Using think boards in the classroom has endless possibilities. They are your superhero sidekicks, helping our students visualise, organise, and dive deep into concepts.

When we introduce think boards, the magic begins. Our students become active participants in their learning journey, flexing their critical thinking muscles. Think boards provide them with a tangible platform to brainstorm ideas, map out their thoughts, and showcase their mathematical superpowers.

So, why do we love think boards so much? Well, here are some of the incredible benefits they bring to our classrooms:

🌟 Visual Representation and Organisation: Think boards give students a visual playground to represent their problem-solving strategies. They can organize their thoughts, ideas, and steps in a structured manner. This visual representation helps them see connections and organise their thinking.

🌟 Reflection and Metacognition: Think boards invite students to reflect on their problem-solving strategies and engage in some fancy metacognitive thinking. As they work through the story problem, students can use the think board to demonstrate their strategies and steps. This reflection helps them become more aware of their thinking patterns and unleash their full problem-solving potential.

🌟 Personalisation and Ownership: Everyone has their own style, even in problem-solving. Think boards empower students to personalise their strategies and make them their own. They can choose the approaches that resonate with their thinking style and take ownership of their problem-solving process.

🌟 Flexibility and Creativity: Think boards are like playgrounds for the imagination. They offer students the flexibility to explore multiple strategies and think creatively. Students can experiment, combine strategies, and even invent their own problem-solving methods. It's all about thinking outside the box and embracing the magic of creativity!

🌟 Metaphorical Thinking and Visualisation: Think boards are a gateway to metaphorical thinking and visualisation. Students can use drawings, diagrams, or models to represent the story problem and their strategies. This helps them connect concrete representations with abstract mathematical concepts, making their understanding even stronger.

🌟 Confidence Building: Think boards are confidence boosters! They provide a tangible and organised method for approaching story problems, giving students a clear structure to follow. Students can refer back to their think boards during class discussions or assessments, reinforcing their understanding and feeling like true problem-solvers.

Think Board for Solving Word Problems
Think Board for Solving Word Problems

How can I use think boards in Maths?

There are so many ways you can use think boards in Maths. Here are just a few:

1. Number of the Day -Think board sections could include place value, + and - 10, expanded notation, number in words, number sentences, show with materials. Students are given a appropriate number to investigate.

2. Comparing Numbers - Think board sections could include greater than, less than, and equal to.

3. Number Patterns -Think board sections could include counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s. Students may be asked to count to 25, 50 or beyond, depending on ability.

4. Addition and Subtraction Strategies - Think board sections could include number line, manipulatives, and mental strategies. Students may be given a number sentence and they use the think board to show ways to calculate the answer.

5. Multiplication and Division Strategies - Think board sections could include strategies for memorisation, such as skip counting or using arrays, repeated subtraction/addition, using manipulatives. This may be used with either word problems or simple equations.

6. Word Problems - Think board sections could include picture, part-part-whole, number line, tens frames, manipulatives. This helps students to identify relevant and useful strategies for solving problems.

7. Sorting 2D shapes - Think board sections could include squares, rectangles, circles, triangles, and their properties (sides, angles).

8. Units of measurement - Think board sections could include centimetres and metres, square centimetres and square metres, grams and kilograms, millilitres and litres, hours and minutes. Students can identify objects and situations that require the specific unit of measurement.

Adapt the think boards based on the grade level and the specific math skills you're focusing on. Encourage students to think critically, organise their thoughts, and make connections within the topic. Have fun exploring math with think boards in your primary classroom!

If you would like to give think boards a go, I have just uploaded a new freebie to my Resource Library. It gives you a few different think boards, two of which are COMPLETELY EDITABLE for you to use any way you see fit.

Alternatively, you may like to start off with these think boards available in our store specifically created to facilitate solving word problems for years 1 and 2.

These are the money-saving bundles, but you may buy individual packages with specific types of word problems: Result Unknown, Change Unknown, Start Unknown and Compare.


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