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This website contains ideas that are "in process." Simply put, what you read here may be just some random thoughts, rather than validated and final procedures. Mind you, aren't most ideas "in process?" The bulk of what you'll read here are answers to questions I am emailed or asked during presentations, or summaries of excellent ideas others share with me.

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Finding Thinking Devices

I recently received an email asking a great question:  "Where can I find good Thinking Devices for my math class?"  Thinking Devices, in case you don't know, are provocative objects we share with students to create lively conversations in the classroom. In fact you can download a mini-manual for Thinking Devices at this link and read about and download other mini-coaching manuals at the Big Four Ning

Coincidently, the day I received that email, I was talking about the very same topic with Laura Parn, an instructional coach in Lincoln, NE.  Laura was looking for a video to use as a Thinking Device for her elementary students to talk about measurement.  What Laura did helped me understand how I could find good Thinking Devices. 

Laura told me she sat at her computer and took a few minutes to think about things students needed to measure and convert to other forms of measurement.  She said she wanted something that would be very familiar to her students, and she came up with something simple: pennies. So, she just googled pennies and video and a bunch of options came up.  In less than a minute she found a great thinking device for a lesson on measurement, you can view it here.

I decided to try out her strategy on a higher-level topic, and I chose statistics.  Again, in less than a minute, I found a famous, but great Thinking Device for my topic.  You've probably seen it before, but watch it again as a way to introduce statistics in a high school alebra class.  You can view it here.

So here's my advice. If you're looking for video Thinking Devices, all you have to do is go on You Tube, search for your topic, poke around a bit, and you should be able to find appropriate Thinking Devices.  And if you find any great ones, we'd love to see you post them on the Big Four Ning.  

By the way, a simple way to download video from You Tube, if you haven't tried it out, is Kick You Tube.

References (11)

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Reader Comments (8)

These are interesting videos. I definitely plan to use the one about pennies--but it makes me think about more than math. It's funny how something can be completely legitimate and effective, but if it doesn't look like popular culture thinks it should, folks get mighty antsy :) Thanks for sharing!
November 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenny
Thanks for the tips! I was wondering how you get the Kick YouTube feature to work with MAC? The site says that it does not support MAC. Do you pull them off on a PC then use them?


Eric McGuire
Beaverton, Or
November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEric McGuire
Hi Eric, it works on my Mac. Just google how to right click on a Mac. I'm not able to get every clip, but most of them.
November 12, 2009 | Registered CommenterJim Knight
Jim visited us a few weeks ago and the use of even one strategic video in a 2 hour session has been a wonderful tool. I have really appreciated all of the presenting strategies Jim shared - particularly thinking devices! Thanks Jim!
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July 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNflJerseyOnline
Jim visited us a few weeks ago and the use of even one strategic video in a 2 hour session has been a wonderful tool.
May 19, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterلعبة زوما
i just want to say thanks for your article
February 26, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterالعاب

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