Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

Exposure Time

This week, Julie and I wanted to allow our students more time to explore an unfamiliar tool before asking them to demonstrate their understanding for the concept or skill being practiced. After reflecting on our lessons this week, we wish this was something we had taken into consideration earlier in our Number Sense experience.

We wanted to help the students in group one practice their rote counting skills, as this is something all students in the group continue to struggle with. On Tuesday, we took the students to the library (a more secluded area) and taught them a counting song. This song associated various large motor skills for a set of numbers. For example, when counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 the students clapped their hands and when counting 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 the students stomped their feet. As noted in previous lessons, our focus student in this group continually skips 15 when counting. In this lesson, however, we noticed that when this student is corrected, he is aware of the fact that he skipped over 15. All of the students in this group were able to count to 29! However, the students have no understanding for the correct pattern for counting by 10’s. Many of the students would count 28, 29, 50, 51 or 28, 29, 80, 81, and even 28, 29, 99, 100. On Thursday, we asked the students to demonstrate their ability to count using a “caterpillar counter”. Students were to fill out of a variety of caterpillars in which they were asked to count or count on from a higher number. During this, the students tended to recount from 1 rather than counting on. The students also struggled to write many of the numbers, and thus became distracting when counting. So we simply had the students state the numbers and wrote them for them. We hope that in future lessons, we can help students work towards an understanding of all numbers 1-100.

Last week we had the students in group two explore the concept of Base Ten through using the tangible base ten blocks. This week, however, we had the students continue to practice the same skill on the base ten setting of the iPad app Math Tools. Though the students demonstrated different understandings from one another, both students I work with appeared to demonstrate a stronger grasp for the concept of Base Ten as the lessons went on. I did not see any differences in student understanding when they used the manipulatives compared to when they used the iPad app. An important realization that Julie and I did come to, however, had to do with the time students were allotted to explore the tool. In past lessons, Julie and I tended to focus on a skill only for a week and then move on to another similar, yet different concept. Yet when exploring base ten, we allotted two weeks for the students to explore this concept. We noticed a drastic difference in student understanding by the end of the lesson, and we now feel that students have developed a strong understanding for base ten. Thus, exposure and exploration time is something that Julie and I will keep in mind as we finish the remainder of our Number Sense experience and even into our own classrooms someday.

Our students in group three did the same activity they did last week. Rather than practicing addition, however, we challenged the students with subtraction problems. On Tuesday the students were given counting chips to solve a subtraction problem. While working with our focus student in this group, I noticed that he was confused at first as to how to use the chips to solve the problem. For example, if the problem was 6-2, the student grabbed a pile of 6 chips and a pile of 2 chips. The student was unsure however of what to do next, and how to take away the chips. After modeling a problem, however, this student was able to accurately solve all the problems given to him through the use of the chips. On Thursday, we had the student practice the same skills, this time using the subtraction setting on the Add Sub iPad app. Though I did not notice any difference in the student’s understanding or performance when using the app versus manipulative, the student appeared to be more comfortable and familiar with the app, as he had previously used a very similar tool.

Although Julie and I are sad that the end of our Number Sense experience is nearing, we are amazed at how far our students have come and how much they have grown and developed over the past 20 weeks. As we finish up our research paper, we did an analysis of assessment data since the beginning of the year until now. It is amazing and reassuring to be able to tangibly see the progress that our students have made, and we are confident that these students will only continue to grow and enhance their early numeracy skills.

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