Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

Number Sense Week 4!

On Monday of week four my partner and I started using a sticker chart to track the students progress in rote counting. We pulled the students one at a time and took them into the library where it was quiet and where there were minimal distractions. We explained to the students that we wanted them to count as high as they could, and the higher they got the more stickers they got to put on their chart. The students counted and when they made a mistake we explained to them where their mistake was and wrote we down the highest number they were able to count up to. Then we showed the student where their name was on our chart and let them place the correct number of stickers next to their name. Then as I walked a student back to class I would stress how important it is that they practice at home too so that they can get better and add more stickers to their chart. Being able to count seems like such an easy skill to adults, but some kindergartners or students really struggle with counting when there are no physical objects in front of them. The only way they are going to get better is if they practice. That is why every time I work with a student I say “I know I ask you to do this every time I work with you, but I need you to count as high as you can for me”. Also, at one of our weekly Number Sense meetings my teacher/advisor Randy Hengst said that repetition, movement, and songs may help the students improve their rote counting skills. I have a video that shows the teen numbers and has a rap to go along with it that seems to be effective so I guess I could try to find a way to include movement. My only concern is that I do not want the students to become dependant on that movement in the future when they are counting. I have a song that I can sing in my head when I am trying to figure out what months have 30 or 31 days, but if I were to clap every time when I was counting and could not count without clapping that may become a problem. Anyways, the whole point of the sticker chart is to create incentive to practicing rote counting. We send a note home to the parents at the end of the week letting them know how high their student was able to count for us, and asking that the parents help encourage students to practice counting at home. The goal for the students right now is to be able to count up to 50. If they reach 50 they receive a small eraser as a prize and if they reach 100 they receive a bigger eraser as a prize. I am not saying I agree with giving prizes or rewards such as erasers to students, but I will not go into that here.

This week Mrs. C. wanted us to work with the students on being able to say what one or two more than a number would be  along with shape names and word problems with missing subtrahends. For the first skill I laid out a number line and gave the student a pointer and I told them to point to a number. This allowed me to test the student’s number recognition skills. Once they pointed to that number I asked them to tell me what one more than that would be. Students were able to do this with relative ease. Then I asked them to tell me what two more than that number was. Once again the students used the numberline and they were able to tell me what two more than that number was. For a few students when I said “tell me what two more than 5 is” they would tell me three. I had to switch the wording of that question and remind them that when I say more I want them to move in the direction of the bigger numbers. Then afer that we worked on shape names for a bit before moving into word problems with the missing subtrahends. I was worried about these problems because most of the students were still struggling with word problems when there was a missing addend. The first student that I worked with I just introduced the idea of a missing subtrahend using an iPad app and he struggled to come up with the correct answer without my assistance. The next two students I worked with I decided to make up my own word problems and write/draw them on a white board. The next two students I worked with were able to complete the missing subtrahend word problems with ease. I must say I was extremely impressed. I did not have a chance to go back and work with that first student again using a white board, but I believe that using the white board really made a difference. I was able to make up problems with my student’s names in them and I drew out pictures like snowflakes or books or whatever the student suggested to help them see the justification of why the answer they got was correct.

On Friday I had the students play this game called Pattern Sets on the iPad. During this game a dot pattern flashes and then vanishes. Then the students have to click the number of dots they saw on the bottom of the screen. The point of this game is for the students to see a pattern and be able to recognize how many dots are in that pattern quickly without counting. The game allows you to change the settings so I would start off the students with only 1-5 dots per pattern and they had a second to look at each pattern. Then if they were doing okay with that I would bump it up to 6-10 dots and increase the time to 2 seconds. The students enjoyed this game and most were able to get the lower number dot patterns correct. One thing that was cool to see was that after the dot pattern vanished some of students remembered the pattern in their head and continued to count it out with their finger in the air pointing to where the dots were. The couple of students that did this got the right answer too!

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