Counting – More Than Meets the Eye

Kindergarten counting is far more complex than you’d think.  What do you think is involved?  What makes it hard?

Many adults, my pre-teacher self included, think that if a student can recite the numbers and identify the numeral, then they can count.  Not so.  Counting is a very sophisticated system that requires students to understand that each object counts for one, that each object must be counted only once, that the start and end point of the count doesn’t change the number, that the final number they say represents the number of items in the count, that every number contains other numbers, that numbers can be grouped, composed, and decomposed, that moving up the stable order of numbers results in greater numbers, and that’s just the beginning!  If you hold up a full hand of fingers and one more, in the early stages, children will count beginning at one despite the fact that they have and likely always will have 5 fingers – they don’t start with the five.  This is because their understanding of number and counting is in the early stages of development.  Interestingly, we have a tendency to breeze over these concepts when, in fact, research shows that these are perhaps the most critical underpinnings for students to have for future math success.

Below is an example from Mrs. Federico’s Kindergarten class at Janet Lee of some counting.  This activity was for 100th Day.  Though Kindergarten’s needn’t count to 100, Mrs. Federico took this opportunity to investigate many counting principles like 1:1 by having students put one item in each square as they said the number.  She also had students use different object to reinforce the idea that the object being counted doesn’t matter (size, shape, etc) which is the principle of Abstraction.  Students reinforced the number patterns and the principle of Stable Number Order.  They also discussed the decades and how the pattern repeats after each decade.  Some students recognized the pattern of counting by tens which required them to Unitize (which is a very advanced principle!)  In all, there was an entry point for every single student during this activity – which made it highly engaging and extremely effective.  I loved observing this great learning today.  Thanks for having me.

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Growing Patterns

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Contact me if you’re interested in making some templates like this one.  You can open it on an iPad in Explain Everything.  Each time it is used, it’s a fresh copy and the template remains intact.  Students can explain their thinking whilst completing the work.  What better way to get at student thinking than accompanying their work with their oral language?  Marking a paper with no oral language is like judging a book by the cover.  So much can be learned from listening to our students.

Making Sense of the Calendar in FDK

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Racheal is building the calendar for us.  We can see that she knows stable number order and can read numerals to 29.  She also read the days of the week.  She placed Valentine Day on the 14th and said the date, showing an understanding of ordinal numbers.  I told her Family Day was the day after Valentine Day and she said, “the 15th?”  She is also able to tell me what day of the week certain dates fall on.  I would say Rachael is well on her way to calendar mastery.

iPads in Grade 4 & 5

I have been lucky to be part of a “rollout” to promote effective technology use in the classroom.  Grade 4 and 5 teachers from across the board have received iPad kits to use in their classrooms, and to catapult this, we all participated in a halfway at the Ed Centre to learn about one tool that can bolster learning through technology – Explain Everything.  Explain Everything is an app that is available through the App Catalog for free or through the App Store for $4.99.  It has all the functionality of an interactive whiteboard and, in addition to that, the ability to record video and audio.  Files can be stored in Google Drive, linked to the Hub, made into templates for students, airplayed with Apple TV for sharing purposes, and much, much more.