I’ve had a few opportunities to sub in kindergarten and observe math lessons taking place. I do have to admit as a substitute teacher I am not involved in the math lessons and concepts developed from the beginning to the conclusion of a math unit. But as an experienced kinder teacher I feel I can add my POV. My main take away in this unit (and others) is that language plays a great factor in children’s understanding of the math concepts. When my kinders were not able to explain their thinking in words, show me what you mean was my go to option. One of the kinder math units focused on Ordering by Size, Length or Weight. There have been teacher directed lessons as well as many hands on opportunities to explore. We have been using Singapore Math in our curriculum for a few years (when I taught kinders as well), and now the school has formally adopted the Math In Focus Program throughout all the grades.
I knew I wanted to write about math and a post I saw from Aviva Dunsiger @avivaloca on Twitter, had me thinking! So from observing kinders exploring math concepts to looking at what class configuration works best, I get to this post.
I saw concepts introduced during morning meetings whole group lessons and then explored in math rotations during the Daily 5. Questions were asked, some eager kinders called out to demonstrate what they understood and some wanted more clarification to understand the concept. I observed lessons presented in half groups with the teacher encouraging the kinders to share their thinking as they problem solved as they used rekenreks or when they compared lengths. I listened as they worked with partners or solo depending on their needs and strengths. I saw excitement in their learning as they ran over to show me what they discovered.
Kinders start the day with play as they build with a myriad of manipulatives, connectors and blocks. They figure out how to make things work; the language, collaboration and discovery is amazing. How this fits into math can’t be diminished in value.
For young children distractions are inevitable (whether internal or environmental) and given the opportunity to learn in whole groups, half groups, small groups or one on one does makes a difference and impact the learning. We often talk about “strategies” in reference to literacy, but I see instilling math strategies of equal importance. Scaffolding learning, differentiation not only in tasks but in differing group configurations and as they work in their ZPD can ease students into accessing information to meet their needs. I feel that understanding how kinders, and all students, think and process information is key to this process. Metacognition is important in understanding how one gets from here to there.
What have been your successful ways of engaging your students in math learning? What take-a-ways do you have either from this post or the one from @avivaloca?