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Inspiration has a strange way of showing up, a welcome companion when wrought of extreme desperation, which describes a recent situation I was in.
I invited myself to do a lesson in Kindergarten, my first of this school year, and I was excited. The lesson I was thinking of doing was one I had had the opportunity to practice a couple of times, so I felt confident it would go well…then I realized, this lesson is appropriate for the end of the year, but not after a month of school…then panic struck me.
Looking my manipulative chest, a plan emerged and two hours later, I had a lesson I was excited to present to 27 K and TK learners.
For the lesson, I wanted learners to have the opportunity to count, to associate numbers in various representations, to have discussions, and opportunities to ponder. Of course, with any demo lesson, a lot of the engagement will come in the presentation, so I also made sure to bring in high energy and silliness (of which, I have ample supply of).
The lesson starts with a “Which One Does Belong” slide, asking the students to choose one that didn’t belong, I asked the students to share in a Round Robin at their tables, then the students “whispered” their answers to me. Without missing a beat, the students chose the singleton unit as the one that didn’t belong, since the other three dice have a five in some representation. Interestingly, that tells me the students are numerically literate in counting and representing the number 1 and 5, this bodes well for our plans and we move on.
Not knowing what levels the learners are at this point, I wanted to build a little context with counting to five. Using a song from Sesame Street, the 3 minute video has five young adults harmonizing as they count to 5. The video went well with the learners, a pin could be heard as they watched the video. Capitalizing on this attention, I asked the students to share what the video was about, as I ready their unifix cubes.
The next slide asks students to Notice and Wonder, each student takes a little time (cued by a song) to think, then the utilize a Round Robin to share what they noticed and what they wonder. As students noticed the cubes, and I had ready the unifix cubes, the learners knew we were going to be using them.
Each student receives a strip of ten unifix cubes, and a sheet of paper. I model the first case, where I “build” the number with the unifix cube, draw it, then write the number. Practicing this, I verify each student is ready, so we begin with two, then three, and so on. Finishing with the number six, we are ready to go into the next phase, which is determining if there are five in the number six. Interestingly, when I ask the class, several students say no, that there is not five in six.
Using ten frames and red/yellow counters, I asked students to construct the same as the picture I am projecting on the screen. I was interested in how many different representations I saw, including some learners who place anywhere from seven to ten counters on the ten frame, when I asked if that was the same as the representation shown, they agreed it was. When we counted on the screen and the representation they had built, they agreed the numbers were different, but agreed that the representations were equivalent.
One student didn’t stack his as a double, like I had constructed, but made five and one more. When I asked if that was the same, he agreed, I asked him to explain, he proved it to me, by counting. Then he said, “It’s five and one” indicating his construction, and that’s 3 and 3, holding up his little fingers in two three, indicating that I should know that the two forms were equivalent. I apologized for not seeing that and thanked him for showing me.
The final part, due to time, had each student show me how five is in six, students were asked to turn over one to show me. Each student was abel to show me, and that ended the lesson.
Throughout the lesson, as we constructed the various numbers, I would ask if two or three representations were the same. For example, if the number was five, I would ask is three and two five or four and one, and we would count whole class using the unifix cubes. Doing this for each number, gave the opportunity to show the different ways to make the number, an important feature that will be exploited in number talks.
As I reflected with the teacher, I was very excited about the lesson. I felt like I reached my objective in a variety of formats. Students were being asked to draw, build, and write the various numbers. Students were asked various ways to build, we counted out loud multiple times, and students were able to talk about math as they noticed and wondered and shared which one doesn’t belong.
The pace was pretty quick, especially for young learners, but it was slow enough that almost every learner was with me. The teacher provided some very valuable feedback and had some great suggestions on extensions and moving forward. I will be very excited to head back in to continue the extensions in a short time.
A various selection of student work is shown below, the various representations and abilities speak volumes as to where the learners' accessed the content of lesson.