Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

## موضوعي المفضل هو رياضي –

Hello Blog Followers,

If you read the title of my blog you may be thinking one, I lost my mind, or two, what in the world does that mean. However, to one student, the title of my blog makes complete sense. On the other hand, “Mi materia favorita es matemáticas” would also make complete sense to some students within the classroom.
Have you figured out what it says yet? Each saying, although written in a different language, means: My favorite subject is math. J By now you’re either wondering where I am going with this, or about to click out of my blog and begin reading another. But I promise if you keep reading, I have a point.
Last Monday I worked with two students whose first language is not English. In fact, one student, Karenna, came in speaking little to no English at all. Although her understanding of English has tremendously increased over the last few months, she still struggles comprehending specific directions, making it hard for her to understand and complete some of the math computer games.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Karenna:

During this session, Karenna attempted to play three different math games, Line ‘Em Up, Word Problems and Balance Math.

Line ‘Em Up: When Karenna first sat down and saw the Line ‘Em Up computer game on the screen, she automatically began moving the numbers to the correct spots on the number line. I found this very exciting because she was able to comprehend what the game was asking her to do without any instruction of what to do. In addition, she was able to complete two number lines in a short amount of time and had no errors!

Word Problems: I decided to play the Word Problem game with Karenna because the students have been working on word problems for a while now. However, I knew this computer game would be very challenging because she speaks very little English.  As we began the game, I demonstrated how to use the different shapes to help figure out the answers to a problem. For example: Kelsey had 3 books and her mother bought her 3 more. How many books does Kelsey have now? – As I read the question, I showed her how to drag out 3 square shapes to represent the first three books and then 3 circles to represent the three books her mother bought. Karenna then proceeded to count all the shapes and clicked on the number 6 to answer the problem correctly. Although I thought Karenna partly understood how to find the correct answers, she began dragging out as many shapes as she could and then clicked every single number, 1-10, counting as she went along. From my observations, I believe one of the reasons Karenna got distracted by the answer number line is because they change color when you click on the numbers; red for the incorrect answers and green for the correct answer. As she continued to click on each number for every equation, she would count out “Nine red, one green.” After a few word problems, however, Karenna exited out of the game and automatically opened Balanced Math.

Balanced Math: As I reflect back to the Balanced Math game, I would say I believe it went just as well as the Word Problems. In other words, Karenna did not understand the game’s objective and continued to do whatever she felt was correct. Because there were only a few more minutes left in the session, I decided it would be pointless to try to explain the activity and proceeded to ask her different questions, such as: “What number is this?” as I pointed to a number, or “Can you put the number 10 block on the left side of the balance?” and Karenna would proceed to move the block to the left side. Although Karenna was not “playing” the game correctly, I felt that my time with her was still beneficial because I was learning how to communicate with her, as well as encouraging her to keep working hard.

Brittany:

During our session, Brittany was able to complete the Line ‘Em Up activity three times. This really surprised me because at the beginning of the year, Brittany struggled counting to 10, let alone recognizing the order of numbers from 1-20. However, Brittany still struggles with recognizing and placing numbers 15 and 16 in the slot on the number line. Because her first language is not English, she still struggled automatically recognizing a number when I verbally asked her, in English, to point to a specific number. After comprehending the number I said in English, however, she was able to quickly point to where the number was or went to on the number line.

Monday, April 26, 2010 –

Continuing the theme of foreign languages, Monday, April 26, 2010, was Spanish Day at the elementary school. Spanish Day is when seniors from the local high school Spanish class come to the elementary school and teach the students Spanish. Although the math teachers and I were unable to work with our kindergarteners on math, I believe it was extremely interesting to observe how different students responded to learning a new language. The majority of students whose parents speak Spanish, or speak Spanish themselves, seemed to be a lot more engaged and excited to help their fellow classmates who do not know or understand Spanish. On the other hand, several of the students who do not speak or understand Spanish found many of the activities to be extremely frustrating and oftentimes did not want to participate. I found this observation to be very interesting because many of the students who refused to participate are generally the students who take over and push the English Language Learner students to complete an activity. Therefore, I hope the students who struggled with the different Spanish oriented activities take into consideration the struggles many of their classmates face everyday when the lessons are presented in English.

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