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Think Mentals unpacked: More than meets the eye

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Think Mentals unpacked: More than meets the eye

Think Mentals 16/10/17

“student-smiling-in-classroom“

Think Mentals is so much more than your average practice and drill mental computation program. This award-winning series is packed with unique features and has been carefully scaffolded to give your students the best opportunity to become fluent in mental computation.

Whether you’re already using Think Mentals in your classroom or looking for a new mental computation program to take on, here’s how the Think Mentals program has you and your students covered.

Strategies are the hero

Think Mentals takes a unique approach to mental maths. It teaches students how to use appropriate strategies to break tricky maths problems into friendly, manageable chunks.

Think Mentals strategies are how-to guides for making maths calculations easy. Each strategy is broken down into a simple 2- or 3-step sequence that students follow to mentally solve maths problems. Throughout the year, the strategies use the same friendly and consistent language so that they are easy for students to understand.

Tip: You can project the strategies and stepped-out examples from thinkmentalsanswers.com.au and unpack them as a class.

How does Think Mentals work week to week?

Each year level* contains 32 weeks of work known as ‘units’.

In Unit 1, students are introduced to the basics of using mental computation strategies. In Units 2–19 students learn, practise and are assessed on the Think Mentals strategies. Each of these units follows the same weekly structure:

  • Day 1: Learn a new mental computation strategy and practise using that strategy with the carefully graded questions.
  • Days 2–4: Complete a range of questions each day that consolidates understanding of the week’s strategy, revises previous strategies and targets general maths content.
  • Day 5: Complete an assessment that tests proficiency in the week’s strategy, and includes revision and general content questions.

The structure of the second half of each year level differs slightly as all strategies for the year have already been explicitly taught. From Unit 20 onwards, Days 1–4 revise and consolidate Think Mentals strategies, as well as target general maths content. Day 5 continues to be the weekly assessment.

Tip: View the Strategy Overview Guide to see when strategies are introduced or revised within each year, and how they build from Year 1 to 6.

A closer look: carefully scaffolded questions

Within a typical day, and across the course of the week, questions have been carefully scaffolded to optimise students’ application, practice and fluency in mental computation.

Within a day

A typical day consists of practice, revision and general content questions.

  • Practice – These questions are best solved using the strategy taught that week.
  • Revision – These questions give students the opportunity to apply strategies taught previously, and consolidate those skills and knowledge.
  • General content – These questions contain number, word and illustration-based problems covering a range of general maths concepts and operations.
Across the week

Within the general content questions, the same targeted concepts are repeated throughout the week, and the level of difficulty for each targeted concept increases as the week progresses.

For example, in Unit 24 of the Think Mentals 4, question 17 of each day focuses on area. The complexity of the question increases through the week, with Day 4 being the most complex.

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Tip: You can challenge your students even further by having them time themselves as they complete each day’s set of questions. Students can record their speed in the ‘My time’ section at the bottom of each day’s work in their workbook.

Weekly assessment

Day 5 of each unit is the weekly assessment. The questions in the assessments are divided into two sets:

  • The first set of questions relates to the Think Mentals strategies (either the focus strategy of the unit, or revision of a variety of strategies).
  • The second set covers general maths concepts and operations.

Tip: For a snapshot of a student’s performance, ensure students record their results in the Student Assessment Profile at the back of the workbook after each assessment day is marked. Like the questions themselves, the results are broken into two sets so you can see how students understood and applied the Think Mentals strategies, or performed with general maths concepts and operations.

That’s Think Mentals in a nutshell! We’ve taken care of the hard work so that you and your students can enjoy a carefully scaffolded and highly effective mental computation program.

Have a peek inside a Think Mentals book with our annotated sample pages.

*features may differ slightly across Years 1 to 6.

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