This week is my last in working in a first grade classroom every day. It is hard to say goodbye to the students. I have watched them grow so much in their math knowledge during our time together. I am more convinced than ever that the research we have read and come to know at the AIMS Center is a powerful tool for teachers. This research has provided knowledge on how to present tasks that foster students’ mathematical constructions.
To illustrate, I want to tell you the story of Jaylah. When I first interviewed Jaylah in September, she was able to solve addition problems by counting the first addend and the second addend for problems like 6+3 and 9+3. She could not add 23+3, and she could not add 6+4. Jaylah also struggles with number recognition. The numbers 13 and 31 were easily mixed up. When I interviewed her again in December, she was able to solve problems like 32+7 and 27+10. When she solved these problems in December she counted on. I never taught her to count on. It just made sense to her because of our interactions.
According to my conversations with researchers on student adaptive pedagogy, having a student make that much growth is a great mathematical achievement when accomplished over a school year, but Jaylah was able to achieve this growth in just four months. I think this success has to do with the number of daily meaningful mathematical experiences that she has been able to have for these past four months. Typically when a researcher works with students they will often see them for a few weeks at a time, and the students’ classroom teacher is teaching them things about math that may feel very different to the child by comparison.
Implementing the research in a classroom for the last four months has shown me the power and potential it can have with students. I love watching these kids construct their knowledge. Seeing success when implemented at a classroom level is very exciting, especially considering the original research was done with students one-on-one or in small groups.
I am so excited to work with teachers in our next phase so that they can come to know this research as well, and use it to offer rich mathematical experiences for their students. I know that they will see similar results as I have and be excited to see how they can foster amazing student thinking.