Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

A nice surprise after a long break- Exploring Shapes of Numbers

Today was the students’ first day back to school after the long winter break. I was not sure how to expect the students to behave, but surprisingly they were very willing to participate in activities and well behaved. Michelle and I made a new goal this year to really plan activities that will help students and teachers to view progress being made. For the less advanced groups, we will be introducing 2 new numbers a week, in the hopes of reviewing and exploring these numbers in enough ways that the students will feel confident in them. Rather than simply keep trying to review the numbers 1-10 (which may be a lot for the kindergarteners to handle and simply memorize differences), we want them to “meet and explore” each of the numbers. We started with numbers 5 and 6 today because most of the students already seem to have a strong understanding of numbers 1-4. We did several activities with the students, but a few interesting evidence of learning was demonstrated today. First, we passed around a piece of paper with the numbers 5 and another with the number 6 written on it. The students were asked to trace the number slowly with their finger and think in their head, how the shape looks, or feels to them as they write it. This was very beneficial because the students were actively tracing the numbers, but they were also given a specific instruction or somthing to think about as they did the activity.

The students shared their ideas with the group. One issue that was addressed in this manner was irreversibility of numbers. One student held up the number 4 card, but it was upside down. Another student kindly corrected him, saying “you’re holding it the wrong way”. The student with the number 4 card remained with a confused look on his face, so we addressed the situation. We asked the second student how they knew the 4 was upside down. He replied that he just “knew what it looked like” which seems to be the answers the kindergartners will give us often when they just know they are correct. In order for the students to practice thinking out loud, we held up the number 4 upside down for everyone to see. When we asked the students how the number looked, one child said, “it looks like a chair”, which it did. We also primed the students to compare the number to any letters they knew, and they quickly responded that it looked like the letter “h”. We then flipped the card right side up, and asked them what they saw. They all agreed they saw the number 4 which had very straight lines. This simple idea to flip cards upside down helped the students to remember that we don’t want a “chair”, but we want the number 4 so we have to hold the card in a certain way. Asking for student impute and using their vocabulary in descriptions of the numbers was helpful for them to discover the learning on their own and relate it to their perspective. Another helpful tip to always keep students engaged and participating was to have them put a “thumbs up, middle or down” based on if they agreed with what someone else was saying. This served as a quick check for us, as educators, to see how quickly the students were understanding concepts and also helped to manage student behavior and limit other students “blurting out” the answers when someone was thinking.

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