Inside a kindergarten classroom with Augustana students

Exploring How Students Understand Quantities with Specific Vocabulary

On Tuesday and Thursday of this past week Morgan and I worked together with one student at a time to assess their understanding of questions that used specific math vocabulary. We continued to focus on before, after, greater than, less than, and more vs. less, but instead of using the number line app on the IPad, Morgan and I used counter chips to see how quantity may change a students answers. While I filmed the students on the IPad this week Morgan lead the assessment with questions that we planned to use before bringing a student out of the classroom to work with us. Some of the questions we asked the students were, can you give me three more chips and then asked students how many more chips do I have than you? We asked students who had the greatest amount and who had the least amount. Then we changed the chip count and asked the student who has more and who has less. We wanted to see how students answered the question, if you were given one more chip how many chips would you have and the question, what number comes after the amount of chips they currently had in front of them? We did this in reverse order by asking if we took one chip away and what number of comes before the amount of chips they have.
Interestingly enough a lot of students were able to correctly identify who had more and less and who had the greatest amount and least amount of chips. What the majority of the students were having difficulty with was the questions how many more chips do I have than you and the before and after concept. When students were asked what number comes after 13 the student would say 14. When we asked what comes before 13 they would say 15. This was interesting to us, because one we asked them how many chips do you have if we take one chip away from your pile of 13 chips, how many would you have? The students were able to know that the answer was 12, because 13 comes after 12 or 12 comes before 13. Not all students were able to understand the concept of one more/one less. Morgan and I knew that if the students were unable to understand one more/one less, then they would not be able to answer the questions correctly in our mini assessment that looked at students understanding of before and after. After asking a variety of questions with the chips, Morgan and I had the student imagine that we were getting in line to go somewhere. We had the student stand in between us and Morgan would ask who is standing before you? The majority of the students were pointing to the person standing behind them (Morgan). When Morgan asked so who is standing after you, they would point to either Morgan again or point to the person standing before them in line. We did this assessment to see how word choice can affect a students understanding of math concepts if the words are unfamiliar to the student.
The assessment we conducted on Tuesday and Thursday raised many questions about how students are making connections to the various questions that are being asked to them. For instance, if the student was able to give Morgan 3 more chips after asking the student “can you give Miss Olsen 3 more chips” and successfully do that task we would think that when ask the next questions, “how many more chips does Miss Olsen have than you?” the student would be able to answer the question correctly. What we noticed was students were not making the connection between giving 3 more and how that relates to having 3 more chips. When we asked the student, “how many more…” the student would respond with the total amount of chips that Morgan, which they were correct about in the total amount but no in terms of the question being asked of them. Morgan and I are working towards trying to understand why students are unable to make that connection. We plan to take the time over our spring break to research strategies that looked at word choice in math vocabulary and apply that the math work we do with the kindergartners at Longfellow Elementary School.

Leave a Reply

Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree