Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

Kindergarten is all the Range

Many of you loyal blog readers may be wondering about my title, Kindergarten is all the Range. Hmmm some may say; that does not make much sense! What kind of English classes has she taken? Well, never fear I have an explanation. Through this experience I have learned many things about students in general. One piece of knowledge that keeps coming back is, no matter the age or grade level, there is a huge range of abilities in any classroom. That is why Kindergarten is all the RANGE rather than RAGE. I realized this today as I was working with two of my usual students, Benny and Laura, and two students I have not worked much with before. Since there are so many students and ability levels we have been shuffling the groups around trying to find the best matches. This is easier said than done, but it is necessary. I had a group we just put together of children who are some of the smartest in the class (besides Will and Michelle). We shall call them Ryan and Jenny for confidentiality purposes.

I had some idea of Jenny and Ryan’s ability levels, but I had never been in a situation where I could really challenge them. Today was all about the computer software. I had them use a game that Dr. Hengst created called “Balancing.” In this game the goal is for students to balance the scale. On one side it had a number like 15 with a 5 and a 10. Then on the other side the number 5 is taken away so students have to balance the scale by using 10, 2, and 3 (which make 5 of course) or another combination. This forces students to work on and know basic addition practices. It was obvious that this computer game was a little too hard for Jenny and Ryan, but they persevered. Near the end of the 20 minutes they were beginning to understand the concept. Jenny caught on quicker than Ryan because Ryan could not understand that he could not subtract from one side to make it equal to the other. Instead one side was fixed and you had to add to the empty side to match the first side. After we were done with the game, I did a bit of adding with dominoes. It was obvious they knew how to add by 1s and 2s. They knew some of their doubles as well. Next time we will look at breaking up 5 and eventually go to breaking up 10 into smaller numbers. It is obvious that these two students are functioning at a very high level, already being able to add in kindergarten. Wow!

Earlier today I worked with my usual students, Benny and Laura. Benny is Mr. 16. He now counts 16 without ANY prompting! Not even a car in front of him. This may sound silly, but it is so exciting to me. I am working on trying to help him learn the domino patterns. He does pretty well up to 5, but he has trouble with 6 through 10. Also, he seems to have no knowledge of what a ten frame is so I think that is our next step. I feel as though he has really made leaps and bounds. I feel that in math he is close to average. That is so exciting for me. He is also behaving much better and during every session I have been so proud of him.

Laura also did very well today. I add numbers to her repertoire slowly and continuously, because at the beginning she could barely count to 10. She remembered that 14 came after 13 today. That may seem miniscule when I had children adding numbers, but it was a big deal for her. Next session we will work on the number 15 to make sure she remembers that. We used computer software for her where she counts the dots and then has to choose which number represents the number she counted. She scored correctly on almost every single one. She has come a long way in her abilities. I am very proud of her as well.

What a range of students today! Kindergarten really has an extreme range of capabilities even though it is not a multi-age classroom like the rest of the school. I see a larger range of abilities in this class than I see in my 5-6 clinicals. I thoroughly enjoy working with these students and I can see them progressing in the mathematical content knowledge. That is so exciting when you can visually see that your students are learning and making gains. I feel so honored to have been given such a wonderful and rewarding experience in my life. Every morning I wake up refreshed and ready to see my kindergarteners. They are so all the range.

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