I spent my day yesterday out of the classroom. I've tried, in my first year in first grade, to minimize those days because it's harder for me to make meaningful sub plans and I worry about my kids (I do have some high needs kiddos that need as much stability as possible). However, my old principal, now the head of elementary instruction for our district and someone for whom I have immense respect, strongly suggest that I attend this workshop and a team of teachers was already going from my school. So, I jumped on board.
I looked at the website for ThinkBlocks, that product being basically all I knew about the day. Looking at the website I was highly skeptical. It looked to me, at a brief glance, to be a fairly commercial, packaged product. That doesn't appeal to me.
It only took a few minutes of listening to Derek Cabrera to change my mind. He is engaging, funny, and highly intelligent. By the time we stopped for lunch, three hours later, I was exhausted and my brain was still spinning trying to make sense of all he had said and overflowing with ideas for my classroom. I'll be posting more of my thoughts as I try these ideas with my students. For now, it's enough to say that his focus on our thinking processes about the content rather than solely on the content was refreshing, validating, and energizing.
By the way, he also gained great respect from the teachers at my school because he continually said that you don't need the ThinkBlocks to achieve the goals he was discussing. They are one possible tool, but you can do it with just about anything.