Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

Counting-On Success

Our main goal this week was to transition the students who were still using counting-all strategies to begin using counting-on. In order to accomplish this, we once again started by presenting students with addition problems and observing how they solved them. Some students began solving the problems by using their fingers, others preferred to draw dots, and some even had the sums of a few addition problems memorized. For those that were using their fingers or drawing dots, the challenge was to have them realize that they didn’t have to count both of the addends. We had a student working on the problem 5+3 and she began by putting five fingers up on her left hand and three up on her right. After she told us that the answer was eight we asked her why she had to count all of her fingers starting at one. She seemed perplexed so we then asked her how many fingers she had on her left hand. She responded that she had five, so we then offered a suggestion. “If you know that you have five fingers on your left hand do you really need to count them all starting at one?” The student responded by saying no. Then we prompted her by saying, “Okay, so do you know what number comes after five?” She told us that six comes next and then we showed her how she could just count-up three from five instead of counting all of the addends. After demonstrating a few times the student was able to use counting-on on her own.

For those students of ours who already know how to count-on, we wanted to figure out how they learned to do so. After they would count-on we would ask them, “How do you know that?” The students usually responded with something like, “it’s the fastest way” or “that’s the way my brother taught me.” It was great to hear students rationalize why they chose the strategy that they did, and it was also really exciting to see that some students chose to start with the larger addend instead of the first one. When we asked students why they did that they told us, “If you start with the bigger number you have to count less and you get the answer quicker.” I’m extremely thrilled that they have come to this conclusion, because our research indicated that students are most likely going to use the strategy that they have deemed the most effective.

In our few remaining weeks, we will continue to work with our students on addition, and hopefully have a majority of our students at least demonstrate counting-on when solving addition problems.

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