Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

April Showers… Bring New Understandings

The past few weeks in the kindergarten classroom have been crazy due to altered schedules for different classrooms. The past few times that I have worked with my group of students we have worked on taking questions from their standardized assessment that a majority of the students missed to see if presented in a different ‘form’ the students could be successful and demonstrate their understanding that was not shown in the results of the test. Many of the students were able to show me that they knew their shapes and the names for them verbally, but had a hard time identifying the written words. All of my students were able to draw the shapes I asked on a white board and then have a conversation with me about what makes the shapes different from each other. Another big question on the assessment that seemed to cause students problems was a question about flowers. The question showed eight flowers and said something along the lines of ‘Joe has eight flowers, how many would he have if he planted one more flower.’ The majority of the students counted the drawn flowers on the paper and said the answer was eight. The idea of having the answer not be what was shown in front of them caused confusion. While working with students individually, I tried to recreate this question is a more hands on method. I used manipulatives that looked like colorful game pieces and in the shape of a person. I would set up a given amount of the manipulatives in front of the student and then have them count the manipulatives. Then I posed the question of ‘how many students would be in my class if one student moved away?’ the students then continued to move one ‘person’ from the line and recount. Then next question that I asked was “how many students would I have in my class if two new students moved in?” The students wanted to place two more people in the line, but without having the correct number of manipulatives, they would count the given number then touch the place where the second new student should be. Some students even explained to me that they counted the number they had and just went one number higher in their head. By having students talk and explain their thinking to me, I was able to gain a better understanding of what they were doing and what the demonstrated.

To get the students in the spring mood, now that it is finally here, Mrs. Peterson asked each of us to take a group of students and do a jelly bean activity. Each group had a large bag of jelly beans and we asked the students to make predictions as to which color had the most, the least, and so on. It was interesting for me to see that some students had no idea what I was talking about, while others seemed to be old pros. After we opened the bag we made a graph so the students could see how the different colors related to one another. The students LOVED this activity, and it was a great way to help start to have students understand the concept of graphing!

My plan for the next few weeks is to continue working with students on asking standardized questions in different methods to see what students can demonstrate to me.

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