Thinking Blocks is a website designed to help students solve math word problems accurately and efficiently using models. The models provide students with powerful visual images that organize information, represent relationships, identify known and unknown quantities, and simplify the problem solving process. By modeling increasingly complex word problems, students develop strong reasoning skills which will facilitate the transition from arithmetic to algebra. Because Thinking Blocks covers problems with all four operations, multi-step problems, fractions, ratios, decimals, percents, and algebra, it also provides a great way to differentiate instruction for students at a variety of levels.
The activities on the Thinking Blocks site provide both guided instruction, in the form of video tutorials with worked examples, and independent practice, with hundreds of built in word problems and the Modeling Tool. Students may work on a specific skill or attempt randomized problems in each category.
Thinking Blocks can be used with the whole class as a warm-up or challenge using an interactive whiteboard. Students can take turns working out word problems on the whiteboard while students at their seats work to arrive at a common solution.
Thinking Blocks makes a fantastic center activity on classroom computers. Students can visit the center to practice some word problems and record a reflection about how the blocks enabled them to visualize the problem differently. The preset problems are a great resource for students who need an extra challenge.
Share this site with parents who want to give their student something to work on at home, but not another “drill and kill” website. Students could also use the Modeling Tool at home to work out their homework problems.