Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

Focus Students

This week Julie and I planned our lessons in a way that would allow us to spend additional time with our “focus” students for our research. We also allotted extra time at the end of the lesson to work with those students who we typically only see every other week.

Our first group of students continued to work on skills such as number recognition and number sequencing. On Tuesday of this week, we provided the students with a set of flashcards. The flashcards, containing numbers 11-20, were spread out in front of the students. They were then asked to locate a specific number that we stated. Once they were able to identify the symbolic number that was said, the students were then asked to sequence the number in a number line. Our focus student in this group had a difficult time recognizing many of the teen numbers (13, 15, 18, 19). This student had demonstrated that he has not yet grasped the concept for many of the numbers. For example, he picked up the number “13” and read it as “twenty-three”. As noted in prior observations, this student still continues to struggle with orally counting as well. When asked to count, this student consistently skips over the number 15. I asked this student to read the numbers on the card as I pointed to them in order, but he again skipped over the number 15 when counting; this student said 16 even when pointing to the flashcard containing the symbolic number 15. On Thursday, we had the students explore and practice number recognition and number sequencing through the Number ID app. The students showed similar struggles when using this app. Though the app did not ask students to sequence the numbers in order, many of the students still had a difficult time identifying the numbers. Julie and I encouraged students to utilize the number line at the top of the screen to assist them in identifying numbers. Our focus student, however, was unable to utilize this tool because he could not correctly count to twenty. Therefore, this student in particular showed signs of frustration and began randomly guessing numbers when using the app.

Our “second level” of students continues to work on skills such as representing numbers. We attempted to use a manipulative that we had not used yet with the students – base ten blocks. Julie and I have recently come to realize through our research paper and experience in the Number Sense Program that students need an adequate amount of time to explore a manipulative or iPad App before being expected to accurately utilize the tool to demonstrate their understanding. Therefore, we allowed used the base ten blocks with this group of students on both Tuesday and Thursday of this week. During both days of this lesson, I worked with a student who we have been working with regularly and also a new student who we are currently trying to place in a group based on his current skills and abilities. These two students demonstrated an extremely different understanding for base ten blocks. To begin, we drew a number on the white board and ask the students to represent the number using the base ten blocks. (I began with an easy number such as 5, so the students simply had to drag 5 units out). I then wrote the number ten and asked both students to represent this number with the blocks. Both students dragged out ten of the small unit blocks. I then asked the students to place their ten cubes in a line and set a long next to the set of the ten blocks. I showed students how when using base ten blocks, we can use the longs to represent a group of ten. The new student grasped the concept right away for how to represent numbers in the teens, and even beyond. At first, this student wasn’t sure of how to make numbers beyond twenty. However, I prompted him to think about how he could use both units and longs to represent these numbers; soon enough this student grasped the concept and was able to represent numbers all the way up to 100! The other student in the group, however, struggled with base ten blocks on both Tuesday and Thursday. She struggled to grasp the concept that one long is equivalent to ten units. This student consistently dragged out single units, rather than using one long to represent numbers that was greater than ten. This student struggled to recognize many of the numbers being written on the whiteboard. Thus, this student may have had a difficult time grasping the concept for how to represent a number if she is still having difficulties recognizing what the number looks like. Next week, Julie and I plan to allow the students to explore the same concept. This time, however, the students will be using base ten blocks on an iPad App. I am interested to see if there will be any changes or similarities in the students’ ability to represent numbers using base ten next week when the students are asked to use technology.

The students in our “level three” group continued to work on problem solving skills, specifically addition. On Tuesday, the students were presented with an addition equation using their flashcards and a pile of connecting cubes. The students were asked to use the cubes to assist them in solving the addition equation. Though the cubes were slightly distracting for the students at first as they wanted to play, both of the students were successful in solving the equations presented to them. On Thursday, the students were asked to complete a similar task. This time, however, the students were asked to use the Add Sub app on the ipad. The students were again presented with an addition problem and asked to utilize the color changing chips on the screen to help them solve the problems. Again, both students were able to successfully solve all problems presented to them. I did notice an interesting difference in problem solving strategies between the two students I was working with, however. Our focus student of the group demonstrated that he has not yet developed the ability to subtilize a group of objects, as he counted each chip in both addends of the problem. The other student I was working with, however, demonstrated his ability to subtilize by counting on from the first addend, rather than counting the first “x” number of chips. For example, if the problem was “6+4” the first student would solve the problem by counting “1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10,” where as the second student would solve the problem by saying “6, 7, 8, 9, 10”. Regardless of the problem solving strategy the students used, however, Julie and I both feel that these students are ready to move onto more advanced concepts and skills, such as subtraction.

As Julie and I continue to collect evidence of our focus students’ understanding and growth, we are excited to finish the last portion of our research paper. We have re-administered the ESGI Assessment to our focus students and now have three sets of data – a set of data from the fall, one from the middle of the year, and a set of data from the end of the year. Julie and I are both excited to analyze and compare the data and determine exactly how much our students have grown over the year!

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