Sunday, 3 May 2015

A Closer Look at Math in Full-Day Kindergarten

I had the opportunity to share my philosophy and program through a math lens during the Kindergarten Additional Qualification course that I co-facilitate with Joanne Babalis through York University. I appreciated the positive feedback from the participants and welcomed the idea to share some of my presentation with them, as they continue to reflect and inquire about their own math programs.

I strive to remain transparent in the sharing of my journey, and I am open to learning and making mistakes along the way. The following are just some ways in which I try to incorporate math into our constantly changing, emerging, and transforming classroom. I hope this post provides a spark of interest, curiosity, and reflection!

The Math Area 
The math area begins with simple and concrete materials to help students explore and investigate mathematics in meaningful ways. Knowing that each student comes with a knowledge of mathematics through real-life experiences, we allow for multiple entry points to meet them at their developmental level.

Math Materials 
As we introduce students to math materials through provocations or focused lessons, we add them to our math area, so that they can access the materials during thinking and learning time. We observe their interactions with the materials and change or move them as needed.

Math Provocations
We offer students various provocations (invitations to learn) throughout the year, which focus on specific mathematics strands, connect to a specific inquiry, or are based on the emerging interests of the students.

Whole-Group Lessons
During whole- group lessons, students explore mathematical problems that are connected to their lives. They are able to apply what they know and discover new strategies with their educators and peers.

Small-Group Lessons
Through mini lessons, we provide guided and explicit learning experiences for our students. They engage in the co-creation of success criteria, so they understand what they need to do in a given task, and they are able to show their learning in a variety of ways.

Math Games
We engage students in mathematics by playing games that teach early number concepts and strategies. By modelling, practicing, and eventually playing independently during math exploration time, we help to build confidence and foster positive attitudes towards mathematics.

Reflecting on Math
As much as students need time to explore mathematics, they also need time to reflect on the process. Our focus has been on asking effective questions such as “what worked well?” “how else might you try…?” and “why did you use…?” to give them the opportunity to explain and consolidate their learning.

Celebrating Math
Developing positive attitudes towards math will have a significant impact on students future success. We share and celebrate math by displaying artifacts, through the use of documentation panels or binders, and during class meetings and knowledge building circles.

Math is Everywhere
“Math can be seamlessly integrated into children’s ongoing play and activities. But this usually requires a knowledgeable adult who creates a supportive environment and provides challenges, suggestions, tasks, and language.”
(Capacity Building Series, 2011)