Here we go again. It’s summer and I always promise myself that this year I WILL NOT obligate myself a book study or linky, but when a topic is so good and meaningful that it makes you want to write about it, I think that you just have to make the time to do it. I mean THIS is the stuff that teachers really need to hear about and not necessarily my obsession with what everyone has in their Target cart.
So this summer I’m teaming up with a bunch a fabulous teacher-bloggers to talk about Number Sense and kind of giving you a run down of what Marilyn Burns, founder of Math Solutions suggests we can do to establish number sense in our students. We’ll do a different topic every week, so make sure you stop by to catch all the latest ideas and suggestions.
WHAT IS NUMBER SENSE?
Marilyn reminds us that Number Sense is a bit of a moving target, because it’s such a broad concept, encompassing a large area of numerical thinking. What we do know about it, however, is:
- it involves in the idea of how people understand math concepts and procedures
- not everyone reasons in the same way
Well, that makes sense. We know from our understanding of differentiated instruction that not all people reason or demonstrate what they know in the same way . . . learning profiles and all that . . . so it would only go to support that it’s the same for people when dealing with math specifically.
7 WAYS TO BUILD NUMBER SENSE – #1. REAL WORLD CONNECTIONS
Right! It needs to be meaningful. We totally know this! Brain research has shown us that the brain learns best when learning is meaningful! Our brain seeks to make patterns with information , to organize and connect information to concepts we already know so that we can strengthen and link new information to old.
This is why real world connections are so vital. But what does that look like in a classroom and especially in a kindergarten or early elementary classroom? Ideally, by providing an environment for learning that is hands on, allowing for discovery and exploration (Tomlinson, 1999; Jensen 1998; Wolfe and Brandt, 1998). Did you hear that administrators? “. . . hands on . . . discovery . . . exploration!”
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE IN OUR CLASSROOM
What all this really means is that we need to provide more of those activities that we are seeing less and less of in early childhood classrooms. More hands-on activities, more dramatic play, more cooperative learning and less worksheets and more student driven instruction. You know . . . those ‘teachable moments.’
I know in my own classroom I take cues from my students. When they are badgering me about how many more days ’til Christmas (or Valentine’s or a friend’s birthday), I take that cue and we use it to make ‘counting on’ more meaningful to them. Needing to find the answer to a questions is a very powerful teaching tool. During the last Winter Olympics, my kiddos were obsessed with the medal totals. So, we carefully kept track of medals won by each country, comparing and contrasting the count and making predictions about the winners. It’s amazing the amount of math that takes place when following the Winter Games. Trust me!
“Mrs. McGuire, what time is it?” Instead of my saying, we will learn to count by 5s today because that’s what our standards tell us we need to do, I show how that counting by 5s is going to get us to ‘telling time’ and using money!
Telling TIME!!!! In kindergarten? But it’s not part of our Common Core Standards? No it’s not, but it is meaningful to a kindergartener, and it makes sense with what they see in the real world.
Dramatic play is a wonderful place for them to practice their math skills in ways they see their parents and adults use math in the real world. Set up a shop or two and watch them sell their wares. (If you need a little flower shop for your dramatic play, click on the pictures below or HERE do get a free download of the shop pieces shown HERE!)
And, of course, let them use real money!
There are so many ideas for dramatic play and extending math practice. And yet, I hear more and more how teachers in kindergarten are being asked to remove dramatic play because it’s just not ‘academic.’ What????
If you’re at a loss at how you might be able to set up some dramatic play centers in your own class, I have a great Pinterest Board for Math with Real World Connections that has quite a few ideas for you to consider. Stop over and follow me as I add to this board often, and you don’t want to miss any new pins.
Of course, there are so many other ways to connect the real world to math in your classroom. Just get creative and don’t be afraid to walk away from the worksheets. With meaningful activities, you’ll find your students more engaged and ‘hooked’ on math in way that is amazing.
And for the next rounds of this linky, take a look at the schedule below. We will be covering a different topic each week.
I know you’re going to want to hear more about this first strategy, so head on over to Mary’s blog at Mrs. Lirette’s Learning Detectives to check out her take and the other bloggers joining us.