When I first became a Kindergarten teacher, I was told by a number (A LARGE NUMBER!) of colleagues from my school board to visit Heather Jelley's then called Kindergarten Demonstration Classroom (now Literacy @ School Literacy Centres). To my disappointment, the visits had filled up during my NTIP year and I never made it there. Fortunately, our paths crossed when she came to my school, years later, to introduce our Kindergarten staff to teaching mathematics through the problem-solving approach. Since then, we have had other opportunities to meet and chat about mathematics and inquiry-based learning. She continues to inspire me through her blog (http://teamjellybean.posterous.com) and I feel fortunate to have her as part of my professional network on Twitter (@ team_jellybean)and in our school board.
When I approached Heather to share her incredible work and thinking with our blog visitors, she kindly accepted. This is a true honour and privilege! I also want to thank Heather for following our blog and for the insightful reflections and questions that she frequently posts in the comment fields. I look forward to future collaborations and learning with her!
Problem Solving in Kindergarten
By: Heather Jelley
What does problem solving in Kindergarten look like? What does it sound like?
- Setting the context
- Working on it
- Congress to share thinking
Working closely with our math consultants I have discovered that problem solving has to look a little different in K. Setting the context and establishing the focus can definitely be done as a whole group. Where is gets tricky is when we want students working on it. I have found it is more manageable with most problems to have smaller numbers of pairs working on the problem, with the expectation differentiated based on the needs of the students. In other words I don’t have all students working on the problem at the same time. This allows me time to move about asking questions to a selected number of pairs on a particular day, documenting with a flip camera or ipad as I go.
JK’s who need extra practice with early numeracy skills, including stable order, one-to-one correspondence, and cardinality, might simply be challenged to count and compare a given number of objects.
Students are paired based on similar abilities. I have also learned that even though pairs are working with the same manipulatives, when recording information students need their own paper to work on. At this stage if you only give one paper you will find that students will pick their own corner of the paper to record rather than recording together.
- share (express) their thinking
- listen and respond to others
- begin to question/clarify information presented
Many of my students brought in food to contribute. I always try to make the problem something that is meaningful to our team (Team Jellybean) and our school and this was a perfect fit.
We wanted to let the local food bank know how much food they would be getting from our classroom.
The first thing we did was the students as a group were given the opportunity to see what had been brought in, to spread it all out, talk about the different kinds of food and eventually they ended up naturally sorting the food into various groups.
(In the photo I actually had 3 SK’s with similar abilities working together with quite a large number of cans of soup.)
The math meeting had 3 students selected from the groups working on the problem the previous day. These students shared their findings and their strategies for recording.
Math meeting for pairs from Day 2.
Thanks again to Heather Jelley for making her practice and thinking visible. I look forward to our followers' compliments, comments, and questions.