EducationCity Feature Focus: Deepen Learning with ThinkIts

Monday, June 13, 2016 -- Madison Michell

The true test of learning often comes when students are asked to apply their new knowledge to solve a problem or analyze a larger concept. But just how are you achieving this level of deeper understanding with your students? Among the rich bank of resources found in EducationCity, there’s one content type focused on asking tough questions to get students to go deep.

Critical-thinking tasks known as ThinkIts employ students’ higher-order thinking skills to explore a given concept through discussion, creative writing, and problem solving. Built to support five subjects in EducationCity—Language Arts, Math, Science, Computing, and Learn English—ThinkIts consist of an animated question slide that poses a particular task, riddle, or question and an answer slide with a suggested answer or example and a follow-up question to push thinking even further.

Whether you choose to project ThinkIts on an interactive whiteboard or print out individual copies for students, these learning tasks can be employed at several critical points throughout the learning process. Today, let’s take a look at three ways you can use ThinkIts in your classroom.

Morning Focus Activities

Morning work, also known as a “smart start” or “do now” activity, is a common way to get students on task quickly and set a positive tone for the full day of learning that lies ahead. With ThinkIts, you can project a particular learning task on a screen or whiteboard for students to work on when they enter the classroom. Encourage your learners to use a journal independently to capture their thinking each day while you take advantage of the extra minutes to welcome students, collect homework, and take attendance.

Don’t let the learning stop there! Once brains are beginning to buzz with ideas, get students talking. When you use ThinkIts, there’s not just one correct answer. Collect student responses and ask probing questions as a class to build even more possible solutions.

 EducationCity Shapes ThinkIt

Conversation Starters

Build a dialogue in your classroom during guided practice using ThinkIts. Each question is explicitly written to require thought and explanation of a chosen answer. When sharing a ThinkIt with your class, consider asking students to pair up and share their response with peers. Many ThinkIts inspire different ideas and creative thought, so it’s a great opportunity for students to learn from one another and experience a variety of viewpoints.

Allow students to share their responses or even challenge them to summarize their partner’s response before building on that student’s line of thinking. Not only does this make partner work more meaningful by challenging students to really listen to one another, but it also encourages collaboration, as students respond to each other’s ideas.

EducationCity Data ThinkIt

Formative Assessment

ThinkIts are also a great temperature check of student understanding. Whether used as a pretest before you begin a new topic or deployed as an exit ticket at the end of your lesson, these short, 10–15 minute learning tasks will help you quickly determine the level that students are understanding the concept at hand.

Simply select the “print” button next to the ThinkIt you want students to work on, and you will have the option to add lines for writing, save to your desktop, or even print. With a few quick selections, an online resource can become an offline printable for independent or at-home consumption.

EducationCity ThinkIt Print Screen

ThinkIts are just one of many great content types available in EducationCity. Interested in learning more about how this interactive program can help connect teaching and learning in your pre-K through 6th grade classroom? Check out our blog post on using EducationCity MyCities to individualize learning!