Welcome back “Number Sense” blog followers. This past Friday, January 29^{th, }the kindergarteners were anxious about the upcoming weekend. For it had been a fun, fulfilled week with the excitement of their 100^{th} day. But, before we could send our little kindergarteners on their way, I needed them to thrill me by achieving some new accomplishments in numbers. They didn’t disappoint, for their accomplishments on the computer using new software programs truly amazed me.

Before this blog gives you information of Friday’s accomplishments I must add a little side note. Although my kindergarteners love listening to stories read aloud to them, they love the chance to play math games on the computer. Their faces brighten with a huge smile, knowing that they have the opportunity to be in charge of the computer. A big thanks goes to our wonderful professor Dr. Hengst for making this possible.

Let’s move on, though, to the goals for the day. Mrs. Carmack desires her students to develop the concept of comparing numbers. For instance, let’s look at this in a non-math way. If I put a big heavy object on one side of a see-saw and a smaller, lighter object on the other side of the seesaw, would it be balanced? Of course not. So, what would we have to do in order to make the see-saw balanced? Wouldn’t we seek to find a solution where both sides have equal weight? The same thinking needs to be developed for the kindergarteners when it comes to math. The kindergarteners need to realize that in order to balance numbers, you need to have equal weight or value on both sides. But, this does not necessarily mean that just because you have a “4” on one side, you have to have a “4” on the other side. Let’s back it up a bit so this makes more sense. My kindergarteners seemed to think that if you have a “4”, a “2”, and a “1” on one side, these numbers have to be matched with the same exact numbers on the opposite side. In other words, they were not grasping the concept that you could just have a “4” and a “3” to make a total of “7”. I must say, though, I was impressed that they were at least understanding that you can make something of equal value by putting the exact same numbers on the other side. This is a good first step that needs to be taken to the next developed level. But, as we do in any activity, there must always be a starting point!

For my kindergarteners, the starring point happened to be using the “Counting Sort” game on the computers. This game helped the students recognize that you can add two numbers together to make a specific number/value. My first student referred to as student “M” seemed to grasp onto this idea very quickly. The student could correctly sort out two numbers that were given and tell me the total number of counters on the screen. Since this game was easy, we moved onto the “Balance” game which was obviously more challenging for student “M”. One instance that came up was the number “14”. Student “M” thought that the question was asking to balance the number “41.” In fact, I have noticed that many of the kindergarten students at times do this. It’s a matter of mistakenly not recognizing the number symbol, especially for student “M” because I know the student knows how to correctly count to “14” and “41”. After I corrected this mistake the first time, the student did not repeat this mistake the next time it appeared on the screen. Like I stated before about the students comprehending the idea that to balance something, both sides have to be equal to one another, student “M” was able to grasp this. Student “M” was able to grasp the concept that just because you have a “4” on one side, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have a “4” on the other side. The student understood that the sum or total just had to be equal on both sides. The difficult part for student “M” was thinking about what numbers you could add together to reach the same value on the other side. Although it would take a while sometimes to reach the answer, the student was able to accomplish this! Every time student “M” would get the correct answer, she would scream with excitement, “Yay, I did it!” When a student feels accomplishment, I feel even more excited for them. I then feel confident that all my students will eventually be able to complete this game and achieve a new higher level of understanding math. Student “L” struggled a bit more than student “M”. At first, he was able to succeed with the “Counting Sort” game, but when it came to the “Balance” game, I was in for a treat. Even when I explained to the student in multiple ways that there are different ways to add numbers together to get to a value of “7”, he was persistent to believe this was not a possibility. In fact, if there was a purple bar that had a “5” in it on one side, he thought we had to have another purple “5”. He became frustrated when the purple “5” bar was not bold, meaning this wasn’t even an option to move this bar. Instead, he just thought the game didn’t work, or he was clicking wrong. In fact, he’d say, “Look, I’m clicking on the purple bar, but it won’t move.” This is when I had to find a new way, so I questioned him, “How else can we reach a value of “7?” Unfortunately, I still do not think the student was understanding this concept. Also, if student “L” had to balance any number after “7”, it was a continual struggle for him. Hopefully, with continued practice and repetition, this student will be more successful with this game in the future.

Student “J” was my last student for the day. We only did three rounds of the “Counting Sort” game because this appeared to be way too easy for her, and she wanted to play a different game. So, we went on to play the “Balance” game, as well. Again, this student had the same misconception that you can’t add different numbers to reach the same value. But, she was able to eventually catch onto this idea, and like my first student with continuous practice, she will soon be a genius when it comes to playing this game.

Even when my kindergarteners are struggling, they still continue to amaze me. I think it is their willingness to want to learn and achieve. They seek to be challenged, because they’re not satisfied to just sit back and repeat the same accomplishments. For me, I can relate to this in a different way, such as my desire to achieve at running my best times in track. I never want to step back and set the same goal for running a specific mile time. Instead, each week I challenge myself to set a new bar for myself, always trying to exceed my “personal best record,” just as my kindergarteners push themselves to learn to play a new game, or develop new ways to learn their numbers. All of our kindergartners are ready to learn, which makes this process such a fun and awarding experience for us all!

Posted on February 1st, 2010 by dana-wleklinksi

Filed under: Dana Wleklinski

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