The members of the Early Math Team at the AIMS Center for Math and Science Education are Research Associates Jason Chamberlain, Liz Gamino, Wilma Hashimoto, and Aileen Rizo, along with myself, Senior Researcher, Richard Thiessen. We are really excited to be working with preschool children in partnership with Fresno EOC Head Start. This year we will have two teams working at two different Head Start sites.
We are working with children in the age range from three- to five-years-old. Our work is currently focused on the acquisition and elaboration of the number word sequence, of counting, and of figural patterns or subitizing. These are the necessary early beginnings of children’s development of numerical concepts.
We are guided primarily by an extensive body of research done by Dr. Karen Fuson and her colleagues and students at Northwestern University. Additionally, we are using the research of Dr. Douglas Clements and Dr. Julie Sarama, as well as recent research done by Dr. Beth MacDonald related to subitizing and figural patterns. We have spent this past year doing what might be referred to as clinical interviews in which we have reenacted a number of the tasks used in Fuson’s work to probe children’s knowledge of the number word sequence and counting. It has been especially helpful in our learning to compare our observations with her findings and then to read the explanations of her findings.
This year the two teams will use what was learned by Liz and Wilma the past year and will focus on fewer students, targeting children at various stages along the progression of learning that is indicated in the literature.
Ultimately the purpose for all of this work is to deeply understand children’s knowledge to enable us to do two things: 1) design appropriate tasks that can be used by teachers in preschools to facilitate children’s progress through the various stages in the acquisition of this early number knowledge as indicated by the research, and 2) to design assessment tools that can be understood and used by teachers to monitor the children’s progress.
There is a body of research indicating that entry-level math knowledge (kindergarten) is the most powerful predictor of children’s K-8 success in reading and math. How could we not be excited about our work with young children? We look forward to sharing some of the very interesting things we are observing in these active, energetic, eager young learners through this blog.