Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

## Subtraction Already?!

The kindergartners were running around chaotically when they arrived in the classroom this morning. They quickly put their backpacks and lunch boxes away as they do every morning and then found their way to the carpet for morning announcements. After announcements they anxiously wait to see who the Augustana teachers will choose to work with. Of course they all raise their hands even though they know that we have a schedule already made.

I chose to work with Brian first today. We were on the computer like every other Monday morning. Brian has a few favorite games that he likes to play on the computer, but he does not play them by the rules, so we have to avoid those games unless he does well with the games that I choose for him. We started off with the Line ‘Em Up game. He tried his hardest to put all of the missing numbers in the correct spot on the number line. He was dragging the numbers close to where they should be, but sometimes he was off by a few numbers. It is still a good sign that he knows which end of the number line he needs to bring the missing number to. Next we tried the Word Problem game. Last week he was not doing very well with this game because he was preoccupied with trying to make objects out of the given shape manipulatives. Today he did really well with this game. He was putting the correct number of manipulatives up on the screen to help him with the problem, and then he was able to count the number that he ended up with to figure out the answer to the addition problems. He was very focused and concentrated on mastering this game which is not something that Brian usually excels in. That just proves how sporadic these children can be!

Next I worked with Ethan and Mark. They did so well with the Word Problem game last week, so I decided to add a challenge today. I changed the settings so that there would be some addition problems as well as some subtraction problems randomly given to them. They needed to be sure that they were listening to what the question was asking to determine if it was addition or subtraction. They loved this! Mark was having some troubles last week with using the manipulatives, and he started off with a little struggle this morning too. He managed to figure out pretty quickly that he needed to stop trying to make pictures with the manipulatives and focus on the math facts instead. Ethan did great with both the subtraction and addition problems. They both knew when they needed to add objects and when they needed to take away some objects just by listening to the word problem. I was impressed by this. I did not think that they would catch on so quickly! I will have to give them a bigger challenge next week and see if they continue to impress me with their math abilities.

I worked with Katie. Her partner was absent from school, so I decided to let her work on her own today. She also did the Word Problem game with subtraction and addition. She did not want to use the manipulatives at first, so she used her fingers to help her with the problems. She was doing well, but the subtraction problems were definitely more challenging for her. Once she started using the manipulatives instead of her fingers, the subtraction was no longer an issue.

It is hard to believe that some of the students are already able to do subtraction problems. At the beginning of the year some of these students could barely count to 10! The growth and progress that the students have made is amazing, and I am glad that I have been able to see these changes throughout the entire school year. To hear about their progress is great, but to be able to see the progress happen right in front of you is remarkable.

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