Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

Focusing On Our “Focus” Students

This week Lisa and I adjusted our usual schedule in a way that would allow us more time with our focus students as well as the students we try to see once every other week. Thus, we did not meet with the other groups we typically see two times a week.

This week our “level one” students continued to work on recognizing and ordering numbers. On Tuesday the students used their flashcards to practice recognizing and sequencing numbers 11-20. The numbers were presented in a random order and together we worded to put them in numerical order. I noticed an obvious struggle for the students during this lesson. Two of the students are still unable to recognize number such as 15,18,19, 20. We continued to see similar trends in their behavior such as identifying 15 as 55, confusing 18 for 19 and vice versa, and naming 20 “twenty-zero.” The other student in this group could successful recognize these numbers; however, she was unable to sequence them. I modified the lesson and had her compare two numbers, rather than fill in missing spaces and she was still unsuccessful. I gave her the numbers 12 and 18 and she told me that 12 was more. On Thursday the students explored this concept through the use of the app Number ID. The students were again asked to identify a number 11-20. Because this app does not ask students to sequence we asked them questions such as, “is this number bigger or smaller than 15.” Students struggled to recognize the same numbers as they had in the previous lesson. To help students identify numbers they did not know, I encouraged them to use the app’s number line. I told them to count up starting at eleven and count until they got to the number they were working to identify. This strategy was not useful for either student because they were unable to accurately count to twenty. Every time the students counted they skipped 15 in their oral sequence. Thus, the students were always one number off. After reflecting on this lesson, Lisa and I feel we need to spend more time recognizing, comparing, and counting numbers beyond 10 with this group.

Our “level two” focus group experimented with base ten blocks this week. Lisa and I usually set up our lessons in a way that would allow the students to explore a concept or skill through the use of manipulatives in one lesson and the use of ipad apps in the second. Through writing our research paper, however, we have come to understand that students need multiple exposures to the same teaching tools before they are expected to demonstrate an understanding with them. I worked one-on-one with our focus student in both lessons. Because the students have already explored base ten blocks in their classrooms, he was able to confidently tell me that one unit equaled one and that one long equaled ten. I asked him to use the base ten blocks to represent the numbers I wrote on the white board. He could easily represent numbers 1-19 without much thought or hesitation at all. However, he grew very confused when I asked him to represent numbers greater than 19. When asked to show the number 24, for example, he would first grab two longs, pause, and then grab four more longs. He did not understand that he needed to use the units to represent the ones place as he had done with the teen numbers. On Thursday we continued practicing representing numbers 20-29 with base ten blocks. He developed a greater understanding and was successful early in the lesson. When I challenged him to represent numbers in the thirties, however, he again became very confused. Thus, I do not believe he has developed an adequate understanding for base ten at this point. Lisa and I are interested to see how this student will respond next week when he is again asked to explore base ten, but through the use of the ipad app Math Tools.

This week our “level three” students continued to work on addition strategies. On Tuesday they were given addition equations and connecting cubes. They were asked to first represent the two qualities and then count the total number of cubes to solve. On Thursday the students did a similar activity using the ipad app Add Sub. The students were again given an addition equation and squares, which were counted to solve. The students I worked with were very successful during both lesson. They used the cubes/squares for each problem, rather than their fingers when the sum was less than ten like they had done in previous lessons. They all said this activity was “easy peasy” so I challenged them with greater sums. The students were able to some these problems just as easily. Thus Lisa and I feel confident we can begin moving on to additional concepts, such as subtraction.

After working with our focus students Lisa and I met with all students we see every other week. We used this time to catch them up in the Daily Word Problem workbooks. Lisa and I both worked with students one-on-one until all missed problems were solved. This week Lisa and I also plan on finishing the last portion of our research paper. Much of this portion has to do with our focus students and the growth they have made throughout the Number Sense program. Lisa and I are very excited to analyze their scores and development over the course of the year.

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