Author Archives: Graciela Florez
This past week I had the opportunity to work with a kindergarten classroom. This is a class that my co-worker has been working with weekly in a small group setting. I was cleaning up our small group materials when I observed the classroom teacher gathering her students on the carpet for a whole group activity using music sticks. I have used these in my own kindergarten classrooms in the past so the sound they made brought back many memories. Now let’s be real, using these music sticks with five-year-olds can be scary! Not all my memories are joyful, but most are. That being said, when I saw this classroom teacher using something I have experience using in my classroom, I saw an opportunity!
This classroom teacher is amazing! I can’t say that enough. What makes her even more dynamic in my view, is her eagerness to learn more to benefit her students. I watched as she was clicking the music sticks together as the students joined in and counted. Now knowing what I know after reading this research, everything she was doing was great. I knew that most of her students were working in additive situations within ten, yet, they were having a hard time counting past ten on their fingers. Anytime they would get a problem that would have them count past ten they thought it was impossible to solve, due to the lack of more than ten fingers. The music sticks gave me an opportunity to have a classroom discussion with the whole group about counting past ten with our fingers. I humbly asked for permission from the classroom teacher to continue counting with her students and using the music sticks. To my delight she allowed me to work with her students.
The time that I spent with the class was quick, and it was over in a flash. My goal in taking a portion of the whole group activity was that I saw something the teacher was already doing in her classroom and to share something with the students I knew they all could benefit from, but is rarely posed to students – recounting using our fingers. I started by just doing what I saw the classroom teacher do, counting the clicks she did with the sticks. I had students click the sticks twelve times. I then asked them how they could show me twelve using their fingers.
I knew that most of these students were limited to counting their ten fingers and they do not realize they can reuse their fingers to count past ten. One student raised his hand and demonstrated counting to twelve by tapping his two index fingers as if they were sticks. Another student did what I was hoping would happen. He counted on his fingers to ten and looked at me when he ran of fingers, then continued to reuse two fingers to complete his count to twelve. This was HUGE. I know that I never realized how important this skill was before I read the research of Les Steffe, but now that I do, I know how much not having this skill can limit a child’s mathematical progression. I immediately highlighted this child’s counting behavior to see if others in the class would think this was a good idea. The comments from other students were amazing, and they all wanted to count the same way. We altogether counted to twelve using our fingers, reusing two of our fingers to get to twelve!
Counting in our classrooms is sometimes something we take for granted. I am not saying that counting does not happen, but the magic of counting is not always celebrated. We need to take a look at our counting routines and see how we can enrich them for our students at all ages and grade levels. Let’s utilize the opportunities where students need to reuse fingers to count. The possibilities are endless. Counting is the basis for all mathematical thinking! Where do you see the opportunity to get your students counting past their finger patterns for ten?
There was always something special to me about teaching kindergarten. While I didn’t always teach kindergarten, I did spend the majority of my teaching career there. I would hear things from other teachers like, “It takes a special person to teach kindergarten,” or “I don’t know how you do it, I could never teach ‘the… Continue Reading
One thing that I always loved doing in my kindergarten class was our daily morning message. Many teachers do some sort of morning message or shared writing as a whole group activity. It’s typically done during calendar time and is an opportunity to model writing with students. I used this time to promote sentence structure,… Continue Reading
It was that time of the year again for the California Kindergarten Conference in Santa Clara. I have been fortunate to attend this conference two years in a row while here at the AIMS Center. This year was extremely special for me because I was selected, along with one of my colleagues, Jason Chamberlin, to… Continue Reading
I have now been working in a kindergarten classroom for nearly a semester and my time with this class is nearing an end. I have taught in the classroom of 23 students for an hour and fifteen minutes a day almost every day. So my question to myself, near the end, is “Have I made… Continue Reading
My last blog post focused on the calendar that I have been using in kindergarten. This week, I want to focus on what students are doing during our math center time. I am running a two-center a-day rotation, making it possible for me to work with two groups of six students for 13 minutes each.… Continue Reading
If you have been reading my blog posts you may know that I have started working in a kindergarten classroom. If you are just joining my journey, read my previous two blogs here: (New Adventure and Introducing Stef the Moose). My work in the classroom has brought up many questions regarding why teachers do the… Continue Reading
Some of the most precious and meaningful memories I have from teaching kindergarten came from a classroom stuffed bear I called Mr. Teddy. He was part of six kindergarten classes. He would go home with a new student every Monday and return to class on Friday with a new story to tell that had been… Continue Reading
In my role as a Research Associate here at the AIMS Center, I have been asked many times how I would have changed my instruction in the classroom if I knew then what I know now. This is a question that I have asked myself as well. After teaching for over 11 years I know… Continue Reading
Whew!!! You’re almost there! This is the time of year that things get a little crazy in your classroom but you are also winding down the school year. It’s time to reflect on where your students are and just how much they have grown this past school year. It is also the time to begin… Continue Reading