Case in point: Several weeks ago I stopped by a room on my regular Thursday morning rounds. The kids were working at centers while their teacher called students over to her desk one at a time for some individualized reteaching. I sat down at a table where some students were working with a basket of bears and some number cards.
|The activity called for the kids to pull a number card out of the basket and then count out a corresponding set of bears.|
"Next time you count out a set of bears, try arranging them in a pattern," I told them. I was curious to see how they would execute two different skills, counting accurately and patterning, at the same time.
|The fact that they had to pattern led many to arrange the bears in a single file row.|
|I challenged them to come up with 8 bears in a different pattern. No sweat.|
|No prompting necessary.|
|Of course not everyone prefers single file. Here's a 6 by 3 array.|
|This child made a line of 20 bears (18 are visible in the picture).|
|Now we've got problems!|
I wasn't always able to work kindergarten visits into my schedule. Until recently, our district had a half-day kindergarten program. By the time the little guys and girls had taken off their coats, found their seats, eaten a snack, and gone to the bathroom, it was time for them to go home. But now we have a full-day kindergarten program, and the teachers have more time to spend on math. And since Theresa has joined the staff, adding another math specialist to our building, it has freed up some time in my schedule, time I have dedicated to kindergarten.
Working in our kindergarten classrooms has made Theresa and I much more effective and knowledgeable specialists. It is important for us to understand what is happening in these classrooms; to observe how our youngest students interact with and create mathematics, to help their teachers find appropriate resources and continue their professional development as math educators, to model lessons, to assist with assessments, to poke, push, and experiment.
Yes, kindergarten is a wonderland full of surprises. Plus they have the best snacks, and some really cool things to play with!
|Who doesn't love big dice?|