We've learned a lot by working 1-on-1 with teachers to use ThinkBlocks in the classroom. Here's six pointers:
  1. Don't think of ThinkBlocks as blocks, think of each ThinkBlock as an idea.
  2. There is no wrong way to use ThinkBlocks...but we have found that ONE idea per block is good advice. (ie, don't write a bunch of ideas on a single block. 1 block = 1 idea)
  3. ThinkBlocks were designed to teach the four universal Patterns of Thinking. Pay attention to the four basic features of ThinkBlocks (ignore everything else).
    1. ThinkBlocks are dry eraseable so you can write on them and distinguish them from other blocks or things (Distinction making)
    2. ThinkBlocks are magnetic so you can relate one idea to another (Relationships)
    3. ThinkBlocks are nestable so you can build ideas by thinking about their parts (Systems)
    4. ThinkBlocks have a reflective side which you can use to take perspectives (Perspective taking)
  4. Don't try to do all of the Patterns of Thinking at once. Start with one (Distinction making is easy) and then move on to part-whole. Once you have gotten comfortable using one of the Patterns of Thinking you can begin to integrate two or more.
  5. Remember that the unique design of ThinkBlocks makes it so you will be learning thinking skills just by playing with them. Play freely and have fun exploring the world of ideas...
  6. When teachers first see ThinkBlocks they are like nothing they have ever seen so they begin to get anxious. Many teachers think that there is some "right way" to use them. There isn't. Remember that ThinkBlocks are no different than sugar packets or any other tactile manipulative. The only difference is that they are designed to teach four universal Patterns of Thinking that you are already using all the time whenever you or your students are thinking about any subject or topic. So, when you feel yourself getting anxious, just remember, you wouldn't get anxious using post-it notes, marbles or sugar packets!

ThinkBlocks: A revolutionary new twist on sugar packets

When thoughts are inside our head, they risk being entangled with other thoughts, its hard to make sense of them, and to think and communicate clearly. For centuries, teachers have used “tactile manipulatives” to represent ideas: marbles, Cheerios, flash cards, index cards, letter blocks, post it notes, or even sugar packets!

ThinkBlocks are like sugar packets and other tactile manipulatives but with a revolutionary new twist. Unlike marbles, Cheerios, Post-it notes, index cards, and sugar packets, ThinkBlocks incorporate four universal Patterns of Thinking into their unique design. The result is an easy-to-use tactile manipulative that facilitates better thinking about any subject by any age learner. Read more to find out five ways that ThinkBlocks are similar to and different from sugar packets!


#1 MAKE DISTINCTIONS

external image sp1.png
Similarity: You can use both to represent any idea in a tactile way and distinguish that idea from other ideas.
Difference: Sugar packets are hard to write on, erase and reuse.



#2 ORGANIZE SYSTEMS

external image sps2_1.png
Similarity: You can use both to model the parts of of a whole.
Difference: It is hard to stuff one sugar packet inside of another, never mind 2 or more; whereas ThinkBlocks remind you about the part-whole structure of thinking.



#3 RECOGNIZE RELATIONSHIPS

external image spr.png

Similarity: You can use both to think about relationships between and among ideas.
Difference: Because sugar packets are not magnetic like ThinkBlocks are, they don't remind you to think about how one idea is connected to another.


#4 TAKE PERSPECTIVES

external image spp.png

Similarity: You can use both to take different perspectives on any idea or thing.
Difference: Sugar packets don't have a reflective side that reminds you of the importance of perspective. ThinkBlocks do.



#5 PATTERNS OF THINKING INSIDE

external image sp5_1.png

Similarity: Both are universal.
Difference: Whereas sugar packets are universal to restaurant tables everywhere, the unique design of ThinkBlocks is based on four Patterns of Thinking that are universal to how all people build, change, and understand ideas, mental models, and even mindsets and worldviews.



Need more help?

Go here to see other resources or contact us about personalized support.

See also:

You may also want to watch the guided tour with Dr. Laura Colosi. Or go to our YouTube Channel to see 100s of videos from every subject and grade...

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Have Fun!