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  • Writer's pictureLara

UPDATE: Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics in Kindergarten

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

If you haven’t read my first blog about Building Thinking Classrooms in Kindergarten I suggest you read that one and come back. You can take a closer look at the book here!

Click here to see the tasks I'm using! Or get the tasks so you can start in your classroom!

You ready, great!

Photo collages that says "is it working?"  woman holding Building Thinking classrooms book, and 3 examples of student work when doing high quality math tasks

So to follow up on my previous steps

  1. I had groups work together to build a tower with blocks to help their communication in a way that felt more like play and less like work. I also used random grouping with these random grouping cards for turn and talk partners during number talks.

  2. As far as working together, I had them practice sharing the marker (which they did) BUT they each drew their own thing so, in our next session, I explicitly said that they needed to create one drawing together on the whiteboards, and that ended up being more successful!

  3. During our Gallery Walk to discuss what we saw, the kids scattered, I mean scattered like candy falling out of a piñata so I definitely need to emphasize sticking with your partner when we walk around and discuss what we see on the VNPS.

There was a little pushback from them on working with certain people, I tried to use a digital randomizer from Classroomscreen which is a free tool, and although I would prefer it because it's faster, they did not all take to it. For my age group, they needed to pick their card and find their partner that way to feel like the grouping was truly random.

Onto our first official thinking task!

As I mentioned in the last post, Counting Collections had previously been my most successful task in previous years so I decided to combine them and take the recording portion to the whiteboards. In the past recording was a challenge, even during reflections, the way they recorded did not always develop so I thought seeing everyone's work on the boards would be helpful!

If you ask a student to count something in kindergarten they often line up whatever it is that they're counting and when their collections are small it's not really an issue when their collections get bigger can cause a problem, but that's another day's issue.

For our first official thinking task, I gave each pair a collection of 10 or fewer magnets to count. I thought that giving them the magnets and the markers at the same time would be a little too much so our first task was to count these magnets and find out how many there were. After they had counted I brought them back to discuss our next step which was to show me how many there were. This yielded some interesting results when we circulated the room. most students try to number all of their objects so if they had one magnet they wrote A 1 and the next magnet they wrote it to the next magnet they were 23 until however many they had. I only had one or two groups just write the final number of the entire collection instead of just numbering.

Photo of student work with numbers 1-10 written with 10 magnets that were counted in a Building Thinking Classrooms Task

By this point, our attention was winding down and they had previously had trouble sticking with their partner for discussions when we circulated the room so I gave them choices to make sure that they stayed with their partner, they could make sure they were standing next to them some chose to hold hands or hold arms (which was adorable!) but that fixed our tendency to scatter everywhere.

I'm still having a hard time getting all of the students to discuss the same thing while standing by a group's work, they are better at it when all of us are on the carpet so that is something I will continue to work on with the kids. I found I had more success when I posed the question to the class of if they noticed the work of whoever we were looking at was similar to theirs or different and try to send certain groups to look at certain areas who did something different to try and figure out what it is that they did.

So what are my next steps?

I will have them count magnet collections again to see if they choose the same strategy or a different strategy and continue to look for tasks that have a low floor and a high ceiling because the range of counting ability it's still very large. Read this post where I go into depth about some of my most successful tasks!

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