Augustana/Longfellow Number Sense Project (NSP)

Longfellow kindergarteners engage with a Number Sense Project iPad app under the supervision of an Augustana elementary education major.

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The Augustana/Longfellow Number Sense Project (NSP) is a collaborative action research project involving Augustana education faculty, undergraduate elementary education majors, Longfellow Elementary School teachers, and the Rock Island/Milan (IL) School District.  The NSP combines scholarly reflection and professional action in its efforts to meet two main goals:

· Provide purposeful,  individualized instruction for Longfellow’s kindergarteners, thus bolstering each child’s readiness for future mathematical work

· Enhance the teacher education program at Augustana

 

A Brief Overview of the NSP

Begun in 2009, the NSP pursues these twin goals by facilitating focused teaching and learning experiences for both the Augustana college students and Longfellow children.  During Augustana’s fall trimester, education majors enrolled in the “Elementary School Mathematics Methods” course are required to plan, implement and assess weekly 30-minute lessons for small groups of kindergarteners [with 2 Augustana students working with groups of 3-5 children].  Following the fall trimester, a smaller cohort of Augustana students is drawn from the course and continues working with Longfellow children for the remainder of the school year.  Pre-service teachers in this cohort devote approximately 5 hours of instructional time per week at Longfellow in addition to performing other project-related tasks outside of contact time with the children.   These other tasks include planning, record keeping, performing independent research related to their work, and maintaining a public blog about their work.

The NSP operates on the premise that early childhood numeracy is a particularly impactful area to focus the teaching efforts of our college students.  A growing body of research suggests that the numerical concepts children develop before 1st grade serve as better predictors of their subsequent mathematical achievement than other commonly used measures such as IQ or memory tests (see the publications page for more information).  In addition, over 80% of Longfellow’s students are eligible for free or reduced price lunches.  Given the socioeconomic status of the students, it is not surprising that a significant proportion of children enter Longfellow’s kindergarten with no formal preschool experience.  Thus many children arrive at school at a disadvantage, already lacking some of the basic skills new kindergarteners are expected to know (such as rote counting, recognizing that numbers represent quantities, etc.).  The research pointing to the vital nature of early numerical concepts coupled with the intense needs of many Longfellow children motivates us to work with each child individually with the goal of catering to their particular needs.  With 24-25 children per kindergarten classroom at Longfellow, it would be impossible for a single teacher to provide focused attention to each child.  Thus, the presence of Augustana’s pre-service teachers provides additional “teaching power” and hence increases Longfellow’s capacity to serve the needs of each child.

One exciting aspect of the NSP is the educational software we have developed to support the goals of the project.  The software was originally developed to provide focused learning experiences supporting the learning goals articulated in Longfellow’s mathematics curriculum (Math Trailblazers published by Kendall Hunt) as well as age-appropriate competencies identified in the research literature.  As Augustana students and the regular kindergarten teachers began using the software as part of their mathematical instruction, they began to suggest ways we could improve the software and came up with ideas for new applications designed to help meet needs they encountered in the classroom.  Macintosh and Windows versions of our software are available for free download on our software page.  We have also developed applications for the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch.  These apps can be accessed at http://www.classroomfocusedsoftware.com

The NSP has been a beneficial experience for all parties involved.  We are continually assessing how our project may be impacting the children’s learning, and have begun to publicize results.  Visit our Publications page now and in the future for more detailed information about what the NSP is accomplishing.

Home          Software          Publications          Photos          Number Sense Blog          Twitter Page

 

Last Updated September 2, 2013

Number Sense Blog

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To Contact Us:

c/o Mike Egan

Augustana Education Department

639 38th Street

Rock Island, IL 61201

 

Email:  mikeegan@augustana.edu

Phone:  (309) 794-8965

Fax:  (309) 794-7375