For the last few months, a team of kindergarten teachers and myself have been working together to deepen our understanding of early years mathematics, spatial reasoning, and the importance of guided play as a vehicle to engage our students to think mathematically. Below is a copy of our slideshow presentation we shared at OAME 2017, and some of the documents we have created over the past few months.
A quick synopsis of our work first:
While our research led us toward Doug Clement’s work about trajectories, and research about spatial reasoning and early mathematics, much of the tasks we actually did with students directly came from the book shown above (Taking Shape) which I can’t recommend enough – if you can, get yourself a copy!
We discussed the quote above to help us realize what actually underpins mathematics success. More details about how the quote ends here.
We shared research showing just how important early mathematics is, and specifically what the kinds of instruction could / should look like to accomplish this learning. Duncan et. al., is a widely quoted piece of research that has led many to realize that early math learning needs to be a focus in schools – even more so than early reading!
We played a few games that helped us stretch our spatial reasoning abilities. The image above was part of our “See It, Build It, Check It” activity (found in Taking Shape). Everyone saw the image for a minute, then was asked to build it once the image was removed. What we noticed is just how difficult spatial tasks are for us!
After we had the opportunity to play for a bit, we dug back into the research about spatial reasoning and the jobs typically chosen based on (high school) spatial ability. Hopefully you noticed something interesting on the graph above!
So, we know how important spatial reasoning is, but the 3 pieces above (taken from Paying Attention to Spatial Reasoning document) might help us realize how important a focus on spatial reasoning is for both our students and us.
In our time together, we learned a lot about the importance of observing our students as they were engaged in the learning. From the initial choices they made, to how they overcame obstacles, to understanding the mental actions that were happening… Observing students in the moment is far more powerful than collecting correct answers!
See the link at the bottom of the page for our connections to Doug Clements’ work.
We also discussed the specific connections between the mathematics behaviours and the learning that happened beyond. In our Kindergarten program document, our students’ expectations fall under 4 frames (see above) so we linked the learning we saw to the program document in a way that helps us see the depth and breadth of the kindergarten program (see document linked below).
We then ended our presentation with a synopsis of what we learned throughout our work together. While the slideshow might be helpful here (I’d love for someone to comment on those slides at the end), the conversations that Sue, Kristi and Kristen had with others have shown me just how valuable it is to spend time learning together. I couldn’t be prouder to be able to work with such reflective and dedicated teachers!
A few of our handouts:
As always, I’d love to hear about your thoughts or comments. Leave a comment below or catch us on Twitter: