Lisa Marquez is a morning teacher for a 3 to 4 year old class in Reedley, California. She has been a teacher for 10 years; however, this is her first year with Head Start. Lisa began working in education by being involved in a K-5 after school program. When she completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Child Care and Education, she pursued a career in preschool. Lisa says one of her favorite things about preschool are the hugs. You do not have to be in her class for very long to see how much the children love her and the atmosphere she brings to the classroom is one of true warmth. While difficult behaviors can be one of the most challenging aspects of preschool, Lisa seems to have a gift for lowering children’s anxiety and valuing their emotions. Her love for math made her excited about working with The AIMS Center this year.
As she and I reflected last month about the progress of her students since the beginning of the year, we reviewed some initial student interviews that were taken five months ago. She was especially struck by the interview of a boy in her classroom and believed that he would show great development almost 5 months later during the midyear interview. As I watched my colleague conduct the midyear interview with “Junior,” I noted two major areas of growth. In the first interview he recited his numbers up to 29, and in the second interview he recited up to 50. Junior still seems to struggle with his decade numbers – 30, 40, 50, 60, etc. He also seems to confuse numbers with a nine, such as nineteen, ninety, or any number ending in nine. It may be that these number words sound very similar to him. The second area of growth was in the area of finger patterns. As mentioned in previous blog posts, the ability to quickly know the number of items without counting is called subitizing. As children have experiences with showing an amount on their fingers they improve their ability to quickly tell a number without counting. During the first interview, Junior could not subitize anything greater than three fingers. As you watch the video below notice how dramatically this has changed.
Although these tasks were not measured in the first interview, Junior also showed the ability to do the following in the midyear interview:
- Count up to 7 on his fingers
- Count a pile of 29 items
- Tell what number came after 12
- Count items that were in a non linear arrangement
- Count items in spanish up to 10
- Recognize and name a trapezoid shape
As Lisa watched the second interview she was struck by Junior’s increase in self-esteem. He communicates his love of learning everyday and desires to be a helper in class. Lisa feels that she helps serve as the stepping stone to children’s formal education, but the reality is that true, deep, and long lasting math learning is happening now in her classroom for every child.