Guidance and Resources to Support Teaching and Learning Remotely

Going Deep with Kindergartners with Problem-Based Tasks in Math

Type

Videos

Discipline

Kindergarten teacher Anne Simpson, from Two Rivers Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., engages her young students in a problem-based math task.

The activity culminates in a gallery walk during which students represent their mathematical thinking to their peers.


Type

Videos

Discipline

Kindergarten teacher Anne Simpson, from Two Rivers Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., engages her young students in a problem-based math task.

The activity culminates in a gallery walk during which students represent their mathematical thinking to their peers.


Transcript

- So now we’re gonna take a look at some of our friends’ work and that means that we’re gonna do a gallery walk. Quick reminder, you’re gonna turn and talk to a partner about what--

- [Host] It’s Friday at Two Rivers Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. and Anne Simpson’s kindergarten class is getting ready for a gallery walk for their math block.

- What are some of our rules for gallery walk? Lewis?

- You communicate.

- But do we communicate, wow that was really great work!

- No, by one piece of your friend’s work.

- Yeah. You have to zoom in on--

- [Host] In the days leading up to the gallery walk, Anne has been working with small groups of students on a problem based task in math, giving students opportunities to deepen their mathematical thinking in the context of a real world problem.

- Oh, now I see everyone’s beautiful eyes are on me and I see their hands are free. I need Sophia, Olivia, Jonas, and Karem-- In kindergarten, we use problem based tasks all the time. Problem based task is a problem that kindergartners need to solve. Some thing’s going to be tricky for them all the way. There’s no clear answer or there are multiple answers but any student, no matter where they are, what they’re working on, can make an attempt to solve that problem and be successful. They can tell whether numbers are greater than another number, fewer than another number-- The problem that we’re working on this week is the pre-K class has a really hard time understanding the word less. More is much easier for them. You need to share with them what less is and how can we do that? By drawing what?

- Some pictures.

- A picture.

- My kids are gonna teach those pre-K students what less is in a really visual and clear way. What are your ideas for pictures? Sophia?

- You can make a number line and they can say which one’s a less than and which one’s more.

- A number line, great. What else? Kareem, do you have an idea?

- We can use, we can do a five frame.

- So we can do five frames. Great. Good problem based tasks for kindergartners is something that really intrigues them and so that could be the materials are interesting or the problem itself is really interesting. In this case, we’re really into helping the pre-K students.

- [Host] At the beginning of the week, Anne asked each student in her group to pick two numbers to compare but by the middle of the week, she modified the problem.

- Now, one of my goals was for them to be able to describe and to be able to look at each other’s work and see how that visually really helped the pre-K students understand what less is and what I noticed is that if they’re each looking at two different numbers then they have a really hard time looking at someone else’s work so I went back to the drawing board after seeing my kids kind of not get where I needed them to be and gave them the numbers so that they would be more successful and actually reach the outcome that I wanted them to reach. This is wonderful. You’re really growing your brains. I can tell. In math, I work in small groups of kids. Four is about the max that I will bring. I can choose kids from all different ability levels and it’s small enough where I can encourage them to really talk to each other. Tell me about why you just did this.

- The four but these are no.

- So you’re saying that this one is ...

- Longer.

- Which means that it’s ...

- More.

- And this one is ...

- Less.

- Because it’s ...

- Shorter.

- [Anne] The active classroom is absolutely essential to solve really tricky problems and to work together. That’s really difficult work and in order for me to be able to help my kids get there, everyone else needs to be doing independent work.

- [Host] While Anne cycles through small groups of students, the rest of her class works in math centers independently. The entire math class typically lasts up to 45 minutes.

- We did a lot of work at the beginning of the year to make sure that they know where all the materials are, that they know what the tasks in each center are. They choose the centers in the morning and when it is their center time they go and they are completely independent. Being independent is so important for kindergartners. They’re making choices and learning how to talk about their work.

- We’re trying to make dot cards and I’m representing five and four and one in different ways.

- [Anne] Learning how to do their own thinking, know that they’re responsible for their own learning and responsible for the learning of their friends.

- When I’m all done, I’m gonna put it where the other work is. It’s where my turn in bin is.

- Having them understand that at this early age is really gonna help them in the future. Now I see everyone’s hands are free and eyes are on me. Much better. It’s time to clean up. You’re gonna clean up everything and meet me on the carpet. We end every problem based task with a sharing debrief and this week what we did was a gallery walk. So, what you’re gonna do is you’re gonna stand up with your post-its. There’s work all around the room and some on tables. I chose a couple of pieces of work that I thought the kids could really learn from. When they walked around the room and took notes on what they noticed that their friends did really well or maybe they were confused about I was walking around and noticing which students were thinking what that when we came back and looked at the work all together I knew that they would be on the right track. I want to notice what they did that was awesome and maybe what we have some questions about. So first let’s take a look at Danielle’s work. What can you tell that she did? I see two people with ideas. Three, four, five. Cecilia, how would that help?

- When she showed it to the pre-K students she could do that and they would know that four was less and nine was greater.

- That really shows that it’s different, does it? What else could she add to make her work really clear? Super clear? Raysan?

- Numbers.

- What do you think about that, Danielle?

- [Danielle] I think that’s good.

- We all finished talking and doing this group synthesis. I asked them to take out their post-its and pencil and really synthesize their own learning. What had they gathered from the gallery walk, the group synthesis, and show it to me so I can use it as an assessment and also putting that pen to paper will help ingrain it in their brain so the next time they go to do something like this they’ll have a new strategy to work with. Really awesome. You guys are working so hard, even longer than I asked you to work. This is wonderful. You’re really growing your brains. I can tell.

Read More