Author Archives: Jaclyn Russell
Have you ever played Tetris or Battleship? Moved furniture through tight spaces? Took a shortcut on your way home or used landmarks as a means of direction? Played with Legos? If you have, then you have used spatial reasoning skills. What does spatial reasoning have to do with my focus on early mathematics? My simple answer: everything.
Our Early Math team has started researching spatial reasoning. We have started to read Early Childhood Mathematics Education Research: Learning Trajectories for Young Children by Julie Sarama and Douglas H. Clements. We have specifically focused on Chapter 7: Spatial Thinking.
Sarama and Clements describe two major spatial competencies: Spatial orientation and spatial visualization. The authors exhibit learning trajectories from birth through 8 years of age. The learning trajectories show which spatial competencies are being established, developmental progressions, and the mental actions-on-objects for two categorizations of spatial thinking: spatial orientation (maps and coordinates) and spatial visualization and imagery. Sarama and Clements clarify, “We saw that spatial and structural thinking is critical in (visual) subitizing, counting strategies, and arithmetic. Such spatial knowledge is central to geometry, measurement, patterning, data presentation” (p. 194). It is essential for us to recognize that these two learning categorizations represent only a small bit of the role of spatial thinking in mathematics.
According to Sarama and Clements, “Mathematics achievement is related to spatial abilities.” Furthermore, “Spatial imagery reflects a specific ability to solve mathematical problems, especially nonroutine problems” (p. 161). It is our goal to unwrap these findings and to explore how we can develop awareness of spatial thinking with educators working with young children.
Currently we are beginning the process of discovering research in conjunction with questions and examining the findings collectively as a team. This is only the beginning for us and we will continue to study and bring to light many ideas to guide educators in giving their students the opportunity to develop spatial reasoning in the context of daily activity.
Throughout the months of October and November, our Early Math team was focused on the ways children learn through play and the mathematics that emerge as teachers interact with children alongside their play. We took one of the activities we created and took it to 10 Head Start Preschool classrooms. Our goal was for the… Continue Reading
My guess is most people probably wouldn’t say “Venn diagrams” and “preschool” in the same sentence. Here at AIMS, where the early math team has partnered with Head Start, I am working at a preschool site that has an amazing staff and loves implementing new math lessons and activities. The focus of the lesson this… Continue Reading
As a former kindergarten teacher, I must say I am a big Pinterest fan. When I was looking up ideas for classroom inspirational sayings and quotes, a recurring saying kept coming up, “Be the reason someone smiles today.” What does this look like in a classroom? Why is this important? And how in the world… Continue Reading
My first three days at AIMS was a blur of activity (side note: I was a kindergarten teacher just prior to coming to AIMS). As a new member on the Early Math team, I jumped right into helping organize final preparations for a full day of seminars for over 300 teachers and aides at Head… Continue Reading