Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

Back in the Swing of Things

This week was exciting because I have narrowed my research focus and so I had a chance to see what the kindergarteners knew in regards to addition and counting up. The activity that I completed with both classes this week was an introduction to addition, incorporating two colored counter manipulatives to aid in the process. To keep the students engaged, I took them in groups of two. In order to assist students that may struggle and to challenge students who have demonstrated previous knowledge of addition, I differentiated the groups so that pairs were at similar ability levels. In order to complete the activity, each student would pick a card from the deck that contained cards with a value ranging from two to ten. Following their selection of a card, the students would then count a corresponding number of two colored counters. Once both students had gotten this far, they would push all of the counters to the middle as a visual representation of combining two numbers. Finally, they would count the total numbers of pieces in the middle to find out the sum of the two numbers they had selected. Besides for addition, I also asked the students to compare numbers this week. After the students selected their cards from the deck I would ask them which number was larger and I would also ask them to explain how they knew the answer they gave me was true.
Since the kindergarteners have had limited exposure to addition, I did not anticipate that any of them would be able to demonstrate the ability to count on. During my work with Mrs. Peterson’s class I was gladly proven wrong! I was working with a pair of two girls and they were catching on very quickly to the activity that I had planned. When adding the two numbers together I noticed that one of the girls in the pair did not even have to count the total number of pieces to give me the sum. When I asked her how she was solving the addition problem she told me that she started at one of the numbers and then counted until she had the other number counted on her fingers. For example, when presented with 8+7 the student would start at 8, and when you asked her why she started at eight she said it was because it was the bigger number, then she would count up from eight until she had seven fingers up. I was completely shocked and pleased with this student’s ability to add and to count up. When I asked her how she learned to do that she told me that her older brother taught her how to do that at home. Another amazing thing that happened while I was working with that pair was their ability to compare numbers. When I asked the pair if nine or five was bigger, the same student who can count on said, “Nine is bigger because it’s closer to ten than five is.” Not only can this student count on, but she also uses benchmarks when asked to compare numbers.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the information that I was able to gather this week and I’m also very excited to find and utilize strategies that will help the other students be able to learn to add and to count on.

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