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Monthly Archives: January 2009

The children have been working on story problems in mathematics and previously done some shared thinking on how to demonstrate their understanding of the story. They have already had an opportunity to work in small groups to draw their solutions to problems. The groups are of the children’s choosing and usually include both Junior and Senior Kindergarten children. They often speak in their home language because this helps them to attend to the thinking first and the English second.

The story problem that was posed today was as follows:

It was a snowy day. Two boys and one girl went outside to build snowmen. Each snowman was made of 3 huge balls. How many huge balls did the children have to make?

The story problem was read through a couple of times to ensure that everyone understood the challenge and then the children were asked to work in groups of four . The groups today were of their own choosing. Each group was given a large sheet of paper, a different colour marker for each child (this helps us to track who recorded what on the page) and the children knew they could access any of the math manipulatives from the math centre.

A wide range of abilities was represented in their responses:


Next Steps

Student 1 called out the answer to the problem as soon as it was read it but had a very difficult time representing the solution on paper. She drew a park with swings and slide and then children but never did represent the snowmen.

I will have to spend some individual time with her during activity time and help her to understand how to represent her thinking.  I will start with manipulatives and demonstrate a drawing. It could be that she did not see the point of the drawing as she clearly visualized the problem and solution. I may ask her to work on a more complex problem so that she will have to work with manipulatives to work out the solution.

Student 2

It is so important to talk to children about their thinking! Student X drew a very detailed picture of the snowmen including buttons and stick arms. Clearly there were 9 snowballs but he had printed 6. I asked him how he got his answer. He then showed me that he had drawn a snowball on the hands of each of the snowmen “2 arms for each of 3 snowmen“ 6 little snowballs.

Although this student who is a second language learner did not in fact answer the question posed, he did use mathematical logic to reach the correct response to his interpretation of the question. Next time, I will go to him early and ensure he understands the question.

Student 3 drew a perfect representation of the problem but could not articulate his thinking in English.

I will have to ask an older Cantonese student to work with this student and then tell me how he talks about his thinking in his home language. By modelling the English words during our sharing time, he will have opportunities to extend his English skills.

Student 4 coloured a snow storm on her paper but could talk about what happened as her group worked out the solution. She did know the problem and the solution but did not draw the solution herself.

I will just watch and listen to other story problem solutions to see if she is able but just unwilling or distracted today.

Student 4 drew a visual representation of her thinking and wrote the numbers that corresponded with her solution.

I will pair Student 5 with Student 1 so she can help her understand how to represent her thinking.

Student 6 used the unfix cubes to work out the solution and drew a picture to represent it. He was able to articulate how he solved the problem.

I will ask Student 6 to work in Student 4′s group to see if this helps her to understand how the story problem can be recorded.