Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas…and Hanukah!

Longfellow students are buzzing with excitement as the Holiday season rapidly approaches. The school has been decorated and as the winter program nears, everyone is beginning to feel antsy still being in school, especially the kindergarteners. This past week we had little to do in preparation for the time that we were going to spend with the kindergarteners. In honor of Hanukah Mrs. Peterson had us review the dreidel game with her students and instead of using gold coins we used skittles. In order to incorporate math we often stopped the game and had the students count how many skittle they had. Another concept that we discussed with the students is half. One of the symbols on the dreidel instructs the students to take half of the pot, and instead of splitting the skittles in the pot for them, we tried to explain to them that in order to find half you have to make two equal groups with the skittle that you have. With some guided instruction, most of the students were able to split small groups of skittles in half. The students seemed to have a lot of fun with this game; at least until their math teachers told them they couldn’t eat the skittles!

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New Experiences And Holiday Cheer

This week was filled with excitement and new experiences. Both of the classroom teachers had something in mind for us to complete. On Tuesday we were asked to play dreidel with the students. This was a new experience for both myself and some of the students. We used skittles for the students to manipulate with each spin of the dreidel. Some of the students caught on quickly and were able to tell other students what they were supposed to do based on what they had spun. One thing that was a common struggle for students was having to decide what have of the group of skittle was. Myself and the other teacher candidates assisted the students by having the students create equal groups then taking one of the groups. After a few rounds with different groups of students, I personally took a low student from each of the classrooms to work with them individually. These two students are further behind then the rest of the students in the low ability group. After discussion with the classroom teachers we thought it would be worth a shot to see if the more individualized attention would help them move closer to the other students. With these two students I worked on basic number identification of number 1-10 with large flash cards. Then we practiced the numbers 1-5 on sheets that contained a ten frame, traceable number, visual representations, and quantities of each number. Both of these students struggled with this activity but made progress by the end. I think from this first individualized encounter that this is something that we will continue, and see what progress can be made. I am excited to see how these two student progress throughout the next semester!

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In the Air There’s a Feeling of Christmas

This weeks report will be short and sweet! As the students get antsy with the upcoming winter break and holiday season on their minds, the teachers are also getting final assessments done in order to fill out report cards. Both of the kindergarten teachers had tasks in mind for us when we came in for Number Sense this week. In Mrs. Peterson’s room this week we played dreidel with the students. We took students out in small groups and each student in the group was given two skittles to use as coins. Each person then spun the dreidel and we played the game accordingly. We tried to incorporate some math into the game by having students count skittles and determine half of the skittles when called for. I had never really thought about how difficult the concept of “half” was until we tried to explain it to the students.

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Getting the Ball Rolling

This past week was our first chance to work with both of our kindergarten classes on activities that were specific for their ability levels. At the start of the term myself and fellow teacher candidates decided to place students in groups where they personally fit best to be challenged just enough and be individually successful. For this week, I have been working with the students of the lower ability group. I have previously worked with some of these students through the number sense portion of Dr. Egan’s class, Education 364 math methods. The majority of these students are just starting to grasp some of the basic concepts of numbers.
During this past week I worked with the students from both classes to help identify a quantity up to ten and write the corresponding numbers. This activity allowed me to see that within the lower level group of students that I am currently working with there is a wide range of ability and understanding. There were a few students who flew through the activity and then would assist other struggling students complete their sheet. The next activity took their understanding of relating a number to a quantity to the next level. Students were given and wheel divided into sections containing different quantities of stickers, and ask to attach the clothespin that had the numeral of that quantity on the wheel. Both of these activities reinforced the varying abilities that are in these groups for both classes. Within these activities I was able to see that this group of students need to have something physical to count. Many students were double counting in both activities due to the lack of mobility in the manipulatives.
From the past few weeks, I have noticed that there are a few students, one from each class, that may benefit from getting more one-on-one attention that is specific to their needs and abilities. I am excited to see what these students are able to accomplish between now and the end of the year:)

Start of Something New

This week was our first chance to work with both of the kindergarten classes doing activities that we had designed in order to develop their number sense. We were all very excited to begin and the students were equally as excited to see their math teachers return once again. It’s hard not to smile when you’re working with the kids because their excitement and eagerness to learn is contagious. During the first week of the term, we spent a lot of time assessing the students to find out what they already know, and also deciding how we would like to structure each of the classes. Ultimately we decided that we would split the students into groups based on abilities and that we would each work with a group for a couple weeks and then switch, so that all of the students each got a chance to work with all of their “math teachers” and so that we could each experience the children who are progressing at varying levels. We also decided that we should work with the same ability group in both classes so that we could use similar activities and so that we could notice things about students during that stage of development. Something I’m most looking forward to is to see how the students will progress with more individualized attention as well as the strategies and activities that will work best when teaching the students.

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Hitting the Ground Running

This week marks the beginning of our work with the Number Sense Project! It’s fun to see the kindergartners so excited to continue work with “their math teachers,” as so many of them like to exclaim when we come in to the classroom. This year, there are three of us working with the students so we all be in Mrs. Peterson’s class one day of the week, and Mrs. Carmack’s class another day. So far, this has proven to work well because it gives us the chance to work with every student in groups of three for about 20 minutes each. In both classes, we have split the students up into three different groups based on abilities. Each of us is responsible for the “similar” group in both classes. After a few weeks we will be rotating groups so that we get a chance to work with all of the students, and the students will get to work with all of us.

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Exciting Developments!

This week has been a really great week working with the kindergarteners. Several of the students that I have been working with have experienced “breakthroughs” where the information we have been learning and practicing has finally sunk in and they understand the hows and whys of some of the math concepts. Several of the students I work with have been having a lot of difficulty counting by 5s to 100. However, once I wrote down 5-100 by 5s for the students they were able to get it. It was one of those moments when I overlooked the simplest solution. It was great to watch their faces light up once they were able to complete this task. I had another student who had been struggling to identify shapes earlier in the year but when I prompted her by saying , “can you draw an shape with four sides for me?” she drew and identified a trapezoid!

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The Fun Continues!

This week was full of exciting developments for each of the students I work with! It seemed as if some of the things that we have been working on for the past15 weeks have just “clicked” for them and they are able to understand it now. One student, when we first began working together could only count to 11, counted all the way to 42 and remember the number 13! This is something that we have worked on every time we are together and 13 would get skipped time and time again so it was very exciting for the student and I when she was able to remember to count 13. Another student who I work with was able to count to 35 when just the week before she would not count past 22!

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Dominos and Scenerios

This week, the fourth quarter goals were the main focus. We have a sheet that identifies which students need extra instruction for given math tasks. While working on these objectives, I was able to incorporate the domino and scenerio aspect of my research. With the new domino application, the students “roll” a domino and show the number on the domino by placing counter peices a ten frame box. The objective of this application is for the students to see the top half of the domino as one color counter and the bottom half of the domino as a second color counter. I observed that many students create a pattern out of the colored counters instead of corresponding each color to the number of dots on the domino. I also incorporated a scenerio for my research question. During the winter months, I provided the students with a sledding scenerio where the students would tell me how many people can ride the sled and how many people have to wait. This week, I created a scenerio about cookies. I provided the context of the scenerio by stating that a student in the class had a birthday today and brought in cookies for a snack. I gave the students counter chips to represent the cookies. The students would then count the number of chips. I would then draw two columns on the dry-erase board: one with my name on it and one with the students. I explained to the student that the cookies in his or her hand are left over after everyone in the class has received one. The student who brought the cookies in said that the student and myself can have the remainder of the cookies. The students would then sort the chips into the two columns in different groups. Interestingly, many students I worked with believed that both myself and the student had to receive the same number of cookies, even if I informed them that one of us could have more. For the most part, the students were able to come up with at least a few ways of representing the number of chips. The groups were less than with the sledding scenerio and the dice task though. I will think of a different scenerio this week to see if the students can create more groups to show how they see a given number.

First Week Back

The first week back was exciting. The students were ready to begin math again and ready to play the math games! I received a list of skills the students should master by the fourth quarter. All of the students I have worked with had made substantial improvement. The largest areas of improvement were seen in problem solving, ten-frame, and rote counting. It’s great to see the planning and effort that the students put into each math session having a positive effect on the mathematical performace. Tuesday was simply getting the students back into the routine. I didn’t get as much completed as I wanted to because the students couldn’t wait to tell me about their spring breaks. We simply worked on previous skills such as shapes, rote counting, 1 more/1 less and writing numbers. I also introduced a domino application this week. Since the dice pattern is similiar to the pattern on dominos, I was interested to see how students would perform on such tasks. One of the domino games had the students find equal dominos. The students had a difficult time with recognizing the set of dominos that had the same pattern and had to recount, making the task longer. One task had the students finish equations by filling in the missing addend with the correct domino piece. This task was too hard for the students and caused frustration. Interestingly, the students called the domino application math, while other applications such as Math Monsters and Butterfly math were considered games. On Thursday, the students worked on problem solving skills. I found several new applications that met the students interest and wanted to try them out. Math Monster is a game of bingo that provides the students with unlimited time to solve the problems. The students really liked this application because there was not a time limit, so they had plently of time to work out the problems without feeling the need to “beat the clock”. Butterfly math is an application that has the students solve the addition problem by placing the correct sum of butterflies in the cage. I used this activity with the girls and found it successful. Students found it easier to place each addend individually and then count the total number of butterflies to find the sum. AUM Addition was the third application introduced this week. The students solve simple addition problems to unlock puzzle pieces to complete the puzzle. The students were able to play this application twice. The second time, all of the students increased addition speed! I am hoping that the problem-solving applications will enhance the students’ ability to complete the domino application which requires the students to fill in the missing addend next week. The domino application also has some adjustments made to it. It will be interesting to see how the students respond to the application next week!