Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

Confusion vs Boredom

While working more in depth with the students this week, we have begun to review our observations and what we believe is an accurate representation of where our students’ understandings lie. The most interesting observation we came across resulted in our discovery of a student’s abstract conceptualizing abilities.

A few students seem to be further in their number sense understanding than others; however, these higher ability students sometimes show confusion in areas that they should have mastered already. I believe some of this, what appears to be ‘confusion’, is due to the unchallenging situations the students encounter. Although counting objects with a one to one correspondence is a crucial skill Kindergarteners need to work on mastering, we should be careful in assuming that presenting mastery of the one to one correspondence (or another basic skill) is necessary in order to complete more complicated number sense tasks.

One student in particular has demonstrated his ability of counting objects with a one to one correspondence; however, on certain days he simply cannot count the correct number of objects we lay in front of him. Sometimes he gets easily distracted with the task of counting objects and other times he counts so fast that he skips over sequences of numbers or the actual objects. A student that demonstrates this type of confusion may not be able to consistently count with a one to one correspondence and therefore may need more help on this skill, or this student could just be bored.

After working with this student on standard classroom skills that all students were just tested on, I realized his advanced ability to solve several types of addition world problems in seconds. The most shocking observations were his correct response on every attempt and his lack of interest in using any type of manipulative offered to him, which proves how much of an abstract thinker this student is. This student has displayed an even further need of a challenge than what has currently been presented to him within the classroom. We now are working on more difficult word problems with the student and challenging him to explain his thinking process orally or through writing, whatever he is most comfortable with.

At first we believed he was unable to accurately count a group of objects; however, we now believe that his inconsistent responses were a result of the tedious task of counting with one to one correspondence. Although he may need more convincing and practice to maintain focus on counting with an accurate one to one correspondence to find the correct total each time, this student is ready and needs the opportunity to move on to more challenging, abstract, concepts to help further his understanding of mathematics.


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