Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

Number Irreversibility

Blog #2


  This week, I worked with a student who is really struggling to identify numbers and recognize the teen numbers as different from single digit numbers. For example, the student sees the number 4 and the “4” in 14 as the same number, not fully comprehending the meaning of the number 14. As I worked one-on-one with the student using the “Number Fun” app on the Ipad, I found it seemed to spark a frustration that may lead to a deeper understanding. Using the app, students are able to trace the numbers 1-20, as well as count objects to practice recognizing the shape of the numbers. This hands-on approach is very beneficial because students are able to make judgments on how to “see” the number on their own. For example, some students describe the number with shapes—seeing a triangle in the number 4, while other students say they “just know the order because they are smart”. Challenging these students to think about their own thought process will be very beneficial for more complex mathematical encounters in the future.

            One nice feature with the “Number Fun” app is the option to have a little green light shine where the student needs to trace the number. My initial attraction to this option was that not only are the students practicing number recognition, but they are also learning how to write the numbers in the correct way which will benefit visual and kinesthetic learners. However, I have also realized the “light” option had helped one student in particular who is struggling with recognizing teen numbers. The student, who is very fairly confident with numbers 1-6, was quick to find the 5 in 15, and attempt to trace the number 5 first. However, the app option would not let him trace the digits out of order. The student sat frustrated with the Ipad that it would not let him trace the 5 after several attempts, admitting “I want the 5 first”. I explained to the student that if we wrote the number 5 first we would have a different number because 51 is much bigger than 15. After contemplating this idea, the student proceeded to follow the green light and trace the digit 1 and then 5. Although I do not think the student has a strong concept of the difference in value between 51 and 15, his struggle to trace the number correctly may have been significant enough to realize that although numbers may have similar digits, when arranged in a different order, they make a new number.


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