Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

Extra Practice Leads to Progress

Lisa and I structured our lessons a bit differently this week. Typically our students explore the same concept or skill through the use of both manipulatives and ipad apps within one week. This week, however, our level one students did not experiment with ipad apps at all and our level two focus student only used an ipad app.

This week our level one students focused on rote counting and counting on from a given point. On Tuesday we pulled our students into the library to ensure we had enough room for our movement activity and that we were not a disruption to the surrounding classrooms. We explained to the students that we would be practicing our counting in a new, more exciting manner. We planned different movements for each set of five numbers. For example, as students counted numbers one through five they clapped their hands, as they counted six through ten they stomped their feet and so on. The students kept counting until they skipped a number or miss counted. We would then explain their error and then start over again from one. We hoped this activity would better engage the students and help them focus in on their oral sequence. Throughout the activity Lisa and I were able to collect data and recognize trends in their counting. Our focus student who almost always skips “15” in his oral sequence did so again in the beginning of the lesson. After restarting several times, he slowed down his counting and was sure to include “15.” If he had skipped it while counting, he recognized his mistake and would say “wait, no, let me start over,” and would include it in his next attempt. Thus, we do feel this activity helped him develop rote-counting skills. We also noticed that all of our students struggle stating the number that starts the next set of numbers. For example, the students can successfully count to “39” rather than then stating “40” the students continue with “80” and count up from there. We tried to give them clues and orally hint at what the following number was throughout the lesson. By the end of the lesson they were able to move from 39 to 40, but still struggled with the following transition. On Thursday our students were given a “Caterpillar Counting” worksheet. This worksheet had several caterpillar bodies with one random number on each. Students were asked to first identify the number given and count forward from that point filling in the numbers as he or she went. I worked one on one with our focus student. I was very impressed with his performance and level of focus throughout the activity. He got almost all sets correct with little struggle and never skipped “15” in his oral sequence! He took his time during this activity, which I believe eliminated his number of errors. Though this student had made great progress and is beginning to pick up on the patterns, we know he still needs additional practice. We hope that, like many of his peers, he is able to count to or almost to 100 by end of the year.

Our level two students focused on base ten this week. I worked with our focus student both on Tuesday and Thursday. Last week this student explored base ten only through the use of manipulatives. This week, however, he explored this concept using the digital base ten blocks on the Math Tools app. On Tuesday he was able to represent numbers 1-39, which was an improvement compared to the week prior. When I pushed him to represent larger numbers he was easily able to represent them. For example, I would write the number “84” and he would automatically reach for 8 longs and 4 units. However, when I asked him to count as he pointed them out he would count “ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, (pulling the longs) ninety… (pulling the ones). This student struggled shifting from counting my tens to counting by ones when the objects switched. On Tuesday this student again worked with the tools on this app. He was able to represent and count what he had represented much better throughout this lesson. Though he still counted by tens when he was counting the units a few times, I do believe he developed a stronger understanding as a result of this lesson. Lisa and I allowed this student to have more exposure to the materials based on idea we had learned from our research. After reflecting on the past two weeks, I firmly believe that this student was more successful because he was given the opportunity to explore the materials and develop his own understanding before we had asked him to demonstrate it. The advantages of this strategy were made even clearer to me as I worked with the other level two students who were not given this opportunity. These students struggled greatly during both lessons. Some were unable to tell me that one long equaled 10 and that one unit equaled one. Others had already developed this understanding, but were unable to apply it. Some students only used units to represent numbers in the teens, while others choose blocks at random to count to the given number. Though our focus student has made great progress, Lisa and I know our other level two students need additional exposure and practice with base ten.

This week our level three students switched their focus from addition to subtraction. On Tuesday students were given connecting cubes and Skip Um cards. They were presented with random subtraction problems and were to use their connecting cubes to solve. The students solved by pulling away cubes from the original pile they had counted out. I did not need to explain this process to the students I worked with. Rather, I gave them the cubes and the problems and waited to see how they would respond and interact with the manipulative. They did just as I had hoped and just as I expected. Both students thought this activity was extremely easy so I challenged them with larger numbers. One student lost focus and started adding several times. Once I turned his focus to the subtraction sign he was back on track and just as successful. On Thursday these students did a very similar activity. Using the ipad app Add Sub (on the subtraction setting) students solved subtraction problems by dragging down pieces and counting the squares that remained above. The students were again successful throughout this activity and again expressed that it was too easy. Lisa and I plan on challenging these student more next week. We also plan on again working on subtraction, but with different manipulatives and ipad apps. We are interested to see if students are just as successful using different teaching tools.

The remaining time left in both lessons was spent with the students we see every other week. These students worked on problem solving strategies as they each completed several word problems in the Daily Word Problem Book. Lisa and I have also made excellent progress towards our research paper and are hoping to complete our final draft this week!

Leave a Reply

Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree