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 100by ones to get a jump on our end of the year goals.
I begin this lesson by reviewing what we learned in the previous lesson. We go over what the plus sign, subtraction sign, and equal signs mean.
I demonstrate how to do the dice activity the same way we did it the day before. Today's activity is a repeat of the last lessons for practice and to gain a sense of autonomy in setting up the problems.
The goal for this lesson is simply to give them ample practice time. It's important for kids to learn a skill and then have time to practice that skill. Once they have practiced enough times correctly, they will master the skill and build autonomy.
Caution: The big teacher responsibility is to make sure the kids are doing the activity correctly. You don't want to have your kids practicing the organization of equations incorrectly. Practice makes permanent, not perfect.
Once I done demonstrating, I guide them through the activity step by step.
For guided instruction, I have my students sit with their working partners. The partners are prearranged by me based on their academic achievement levels. High students are paired with Med-low, Med-high students are paired with low achievement students. I don't allow more than two levels difference between partners. Anymore than two levels difference between achievement levels will frustrate both partners and cause behavior problems.
Once the kids are sitting with their partners, I have the helpers of the day pass out baggies with dice. I have the partner A's roll their sign dice. I then have them roll their number dice and stop. I walk around the room to each pair of students and have them show me how they are going to set up the equation and ask them to explain to me why they are setting them up that way. I support any teams that are struggling or are unsure.
I confirm that all of the teams have accurately set up their equations. I have the partner whose turn it is record the problem on a white board and solve. I have, in the past, had them record the equations on paper for me to collect. This works well for accountability in centers.
The kids are now fairly fluent in understanding how to set up a problem once the dice are rolled.
The biggest struggle is still subtraction. Understanding that the larger number must come first is a concept that gets away from them easily until they have a firmer grasp of number sense. For most kids, this understanding forms in first grade.
One way to help with this problem is to keep providing the kids with counting cubes so they can see that they must have the larger quantities accounted for first. The use of manipulatives should be encouraged in all grades K-5.
For some, the fluency builds slowly, but it builds none the less. In small steps the kids slowly get the idea of how to set up addition and subtraction problems and eventually they are able to do it on their own and explain how and why they set it up that way.
After they have set up their problems using the dice for a period of 7 minutes, I have the helpers collect the dice sets and pass out the number sentence cut and past page. This page has four problems, two addition and two subtraction that the kids need to cut and paste in the correct order so they can solve them.
I spend more time on the closure of this lesson than others because it very complex and challenging for kindergarteners. The good news is that with patience and a ton of guidance, the kids actually can do it and they can even begin coaching each other.
I gather them on the floor as the daily class helpers collect the materials. I ask the kids what they learned from the activity. I give them 30 seconds to silently think through their response. Once the timer goes off, they are given 30 more seconds to tell their talking partner what they learned (Partner A speaks first). The talking partners are not the same partner they played the game with. I then give Partner B 30 seconds to tell Partner A what they learned while playing the game. They are not allowed to say the same thing as Partner A unless they are pre-immergent second language learner or severely special ed in math.
I record their responses and we discuss what the found easy and what they found difficult.
One thing that was resounding was how helpful they found the activity
The exit ticket is the completed number sentence cut and paste job with the four equations glued in place correctly.
I collect the exit tickets as my kids line up for their music class. I place the exit tickets into two piles as I glass them over as I collect them. One pile for those who seem to understand the concept based on how they set up their problems, and one for those who do not. The kids who do not appear to understand the concept/skill of setting up addition and subtraction number sentences correctly, meet with me in a small group the next day.They will continue to meet with me until the concept is realized and they are able to demonstrate understanding in setting up of the equations.