Special education department launches ‘ITHINK’ program for elementary schools

Haley Barnes, Rocket Contributor
February 20, 2014

Dr. Jeremy Lynch of Slippery Rock University’s special education program developed a program called “ITHINK,” which he hopes to teach to practicing elementary teachers.

“’ITHINK’ is a problem solving framework students can use to help them organize their thinking and mathematical work while solving problems in groups,” Lynch said.

Lynch said the name of the program is an acronym where each letter stands for a step in the process. He  wants to teach “ITHINK” to practicing elementary teachers, with the hopes of incorporating the process into the curriculum of elementary students on a daily basis.

The breakdown of the program is:

I- independently think about the problem
T- talk about the problem
H- how can you solve the problem
I- identify a strategy to solve it
N- notice how your strategy helped you solve the problem
K- keep thinking about the problem. Does it make sense? Is there another way to solve it?

Students work through the process of identifying their initial reaction to the problem, identifying what the problem is asking, and identifying the methods that could possibly be used to solve the problem, Lynch said. From there, they pick the method they think will work, solve the problem, and justify their answer, Lynch said.

Lynch said “ITHINK” encourages students to work in groups, talk about their thinking, and discuss why their answers make sense.

“The correct answer is important, but that is not the only aspect of their answer,” Lynch said.

Lynch believes that “ITHINK” will be beneficial to elementary students because it teaches students how to work through word problems together.

“Students are able to hear others thinking while collaboratively solving a problem,” Lynch said. “They also further develop their communication skills. This framework also teaches students how to organize their thinking during problem solving.”

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