Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Kindergarten Math- Not Just Counting

I think I must have been a kindergarten teacher in another life because I always feel so at home working with younger children. This morning I spent time in two kindergarten classrooms (Ms Tenenbaum and Ms Nido) while they were doing math and what a wonderful experience it was. Three of my ED325 elementary education students are placed in the two classes for their 2-hour a week field placement which is a part of the course.

In one class the students were learning how to problem solve by drawing pictures of the problem and the associated numbers. It was so neat to watch the different strategies the children were using and it was not an easy problem; (If twelve children each have 2 cookies how many cookies are there all together).  The neat thing about this problem is that it all the children in the class can have a shot at solving the problem regardless of their mathematical development in the same way that all children can write a sentence of some sort regardless of their writing ability given a good writing prompt.

Some of the students drew 12 children, gave each child 2 cookies and then counted all the cookies one by one. Other children drew similar drawings but were able to count by 2s. I'm sure there was probably yet another student who used multiplication in some way. In the other classroom the students were playing bingo and learning to associate spoken numbers with their written form, part of what we call the triangle of meaning in math education. The other part of the triangle is the numerousness concept of the number (e.g OOO -- 3 -- "three")

The wonderful thing for my SMC teacher education students is that we were talking about these exact things during our math ed. class on Monday afternoon. So within 48 hours, the students can experience with children the exact things we were discussing theoretically in the college classroom. They even got to see some numeral reversals which are usually the misapplication of the counter clockwise rule that governs the formation of lower case letters in 6 of the first 8 letters of the alphabet. If you form your numerals going counterclockwise the 2, 3 and 7 will be reversed. These are the ones that nearly all students reverse when they learn to write numbers. Isn't that cool!

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