Each day we begin our math block with an interactive online calendar followed by counting songs and videos.
We do calendar on Starfall every afternoon. This website has free reading and math resources for primary teachers. It also has a “more” option that requires paying a yearly fee. The calendar use is free. A detailed description of Daily Calendar math is included in the resources.
Counting with online sources: Today we did counting practice to reinforce the counting skills. We watched two to three number recognition 0-10 videos (one to two minutes each) because some of my students students were still struggling with identifying numbers correctly in random order. We watched "Shawn the Train" and counted objects with him to refresh our memories on how to count objects to ten and to reinforce one to one counting. Since we have started the second quarter of the school year, we added to today's counting practice: counting to 20 forward and back, counting by tens to 100 and counting to 100 by ones to get a jump on our end of the year goals.
To warm up our brains, we started this lesson with a review of the addition and subtraction signs.
Me (holding up the addition sign): What is this?
Students: Addition sign!
Me: What does it mean?
Students: To get more!
Me (holding up the subtraction sign): What is this?
Students: Subtraction sign!
Me: What does it mean?
Students: Put some back! (Some will say "Take away!") Either is acceptable in kinder. I use them interchangeably with the kids to solidify their understanding of subtraction.
Me (holding up the equal sign): What is this?
Students: Equal sign!
Me: What does it mean:
Students: The same as!
Me: Alright! You remembered all your signs. Now we are going to refresh our brains by doing a few addition and subtraction problems online. (I use Starfall which requires a few that my administrator pays for. You can use less expensive sites like Brainpop Jr. or free sites like ABCya).
Using one of those sites, we work through a few addition and subtraction problems together. We focus on the content, vocabulary, and signs, all of which are important for students to understand in order to successfully solve story problems.
For this section, the students practice "drawing" (we use dots to represent objects in story problems to conserve time) and notating the story problem in a number sentence while I guide them through several addition and subtraction story problems. As we progress through the problems, I allow them to take on more on their own and then check their work against mine to confirm or correct. This allows them to eventually be able to draw out and notate a story problem on their own.
First we begin by doing the first problem step by step together (addition) with me modeling:
Me: Here's our first story problem. There were 3 birds in a nest and 2 more were flying by and got tired. They decided to join them in the nest. How many birds are in the nest now? (These story problems are modeled after our Galileo test builder questions for kinder).
Me: "I listen for the first clue, 'There were 3 birds in a nest.' So, I am going to draw 3 dots to represent the 3 birds in the nest and I am going to write the number three under the dots. Do it with me like this (I demonstrate). Hold up your board when you are done."
"Now I am going to listen for the next clue, '2 more birds were flying by and got tired. They decided to join the other birds in the nest.' I am going draw 2 more dots to represent the 2 tired birds that landed in the nest. I am going to write the number 2 under the dots."
Me: "So, in this story problem, did we get more birds or less birds?"
Students: "More birds!'
Me: "So what sign do you think I should write between these two numbers?"
Students choral response: "The addition sign!" (most students answer correctly. I do not correct the ones who I notice answer incorrectly because they will learn from hearing and seeing the others respond and from me writing on the whiteboard).
Me: "Okay, here you go! (I write in the addition sign). Now, am I done with this problem?"
Students: "No! you have to finish it!"
Me: "Oh, you mean SOLVE it?"
Me: Okay. "What do I need to write to solve it?"
Students: "The equal sign!"
Me: I write the equal sign. "Now what do I do?"
Students: "Count the dots all together!"
Me: "Count with me 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. How many birds are in the nest now?"
Students: "There are 5 birds in the nest!" (I require complete sentence answers to story problems)
We continue with this pattern for six to eight guided practice problems using addition or subtraction in story problems. As we do more story problems, and the kids become more comfortable with recording what they hear, I have them record the "clues" on their boards and check their work against mine (in steps). At that time they can correct their drawings or their number sentences in a non-threatening way.
Note: I do not concern myself with number reversals. It is normal for kids to reverse the writing of numbers and letters until age 8. I may mention it to the student for a quick learning opportunity, but I don't make a big deal about it.
As a group we gather on the floor and discuss what we learned. We share any "ah ha" moments we may have had and any challenges we may have faced.
One student stated that she sometimes struggled to know if the story was addition or subtraction. So I used our closure for a learning reinforcement opportunity.
Me: Thank you for sharing! I'm sure you are not the only one in our room who had a difficult time once in a while trying to figure out whether the story problems were subtraction, take away, or addition, getting more. Can someone share what they did when they started to get confused?
Random volunteer student picked from raised hands: "I made like a movie in my head so I could kind of see what the story was telling."
Me: Can you give us an example?
Student: When you told the pigs rolling in the mud. First I saw four pigs in the mud in my head and then two went to take a bath. If two went to take a bath, then they had to leave because you can't take a bath in mud. So in my brain they left and I crossed them out. Then their were only two pigs left. So I wrote 4-2=2.
Me: Would you tell me that one more time step by step while I write it on the board?
Me: Is it okay with you if I use dots instead of drawing out the pigs? If I draw the pigs this will take too long because I am not a very good pig drawer. (Kids laugh)
Student: Yeah, that's fine.
The student walked me through her thinking as I recorded it on chart paper. When we were finished, I went to the first student who said that they struggled to understand whether they should add or subtract sometimes.
Me to the first student: Did this help you to know whether you were going to add or subtract the pigs?
Student: Yes, maybe if I close my eyes and listen to a story problem, I can make a movie in my brain.
Me: Maybe try it on when we do the Exit Ticket and see if that helps. We can talk about when you turn it in your exit ticket.
Another student referenced some clue words that he listened for like left, joined, lost, found. From that another student mentioned that those were kind of like opposites. I acknowledged the statement positively, but did not spend time on the concept, but it is a great segue for another lesson that allows the student to understand the relationship between addition and subtraction.
This is the first opportunity I give the students to represent a story problem with pictures (dots) and a number sentence. I am looking to see what they can do at this point. I am not looking for perfection, but I do expect them to at least draw the correct number of dots to represent the objects in the stories and write the correct number under each set of dots. I am hopeful that they attempt to use the + or - signs correctly and they attempt to incorporate the = and a final nurmerical answer.
The students get a blank sheet of copy paper. The fold it twice to make four boxes. They number the boxes 1, 2, 3, and 4.
We put up our privacy offices (two used file folders stapled together).
I tell four story problems, two addition and two subtraction in random order. As I tell the stories, each student tries his or her best to represent the stories using dots and number sentences.
As I collect the exit tickets, I separate them into three groups:
Meets - representations and number sentences are correct (need enrichment) number reversals are okay in kindergarten
Approaches - dots are correct, there is some correct usage of mathematical symbols and notation. This group is on-target with the lessons and will continue with the program (unit of study) as planned.
Falls Far Below - dots count is in accurate, little to no use of symbols/signs, lack of organization, possibly a blank page or random scribbles may be presented. This student needs immediate small group (no more than three) interactions or one on one exposure to the concept of story problem. This group should be no more than 5% of you class. If it is, consider reteaching the lesson before forming small groups.