By Ms. Louise Graham and Mrs. Emily Turner-Williams, Reception Teachers
The Concordia Reception team understands the importance of developing the mathematical thinking of our youngest learners, along with helping to foster a love for math right from the start. Upon getting to know our students and learning more about who they are as mathematicians, it was evident that there were many different learning needs that we must address. We wanted to help each reception student to develop their mathematical capabilities and confidence in each area of the curriculum. Therefore, to make sure we were meeting those needs, we hoped to design an inclusive math program with effective instruction for home learning. To achieve this goal, the Reception students are split into small groups, mixing across classes. Each small math group covers the same objective, however, the approach to instruction, the strategies taught, scaffolding, and questioning are differentiated. This ensures we can meet students where they are on their learning journey and help them to move forward in their understanding and application of math skills.
When teaching math to early learners, students must use manipulatives to develop their mathematical skills, thinking, and comprehension. By manipulating objects with their hands, students are able to visualize the math concepts being taught with more ease and to make sense of their learning. Making sure each student had access to important manipulatives and materials during home learning was a challenge that we faced at the beginning of the year. With a little creativity, we were able to come up with solutions that enabled every student in Reception to have the same tools. We created math learning packs containing everything from hundred charts, to pattern blocks. Students have taken an active role in the development of their math tools by creating their own base ten blocks, clocks, and even handmade balancing scales! This has become a great opportunity for students to take ownership of their learning. Having so many manipulatives and resources has allowed teachers to create fun and engaging lessons where students can be ‘hands-on, and minds-on’ during math time.
Built into our reception schedule, students also enjoy ‘Morning Math Talks’. During this time, students review math concepts they have learned previously, in a fun way that helps to consolidate their skills. This time also permits the students to have discussions as a whole class about problem-solving, sharing different perspectives and ways of approaching math problems. Students often work as a team on challenges, such as virtual escape rooms, that allow students to collaborate and support one another in their learning. These 10 - 20 minute math talks are a great way to keep students engaged in mathematics, and spirits high during home learning.
Building and maintaining engagement during home learning is a goal we continuously strive to achieve. Knowing that disengagement tends to result in a lower academic performance we are continually revising and creating ways to embed learning opportunities into the students’ home environments. Unlocking new understanding and mathematical ideas is fascinating to young students, and we hope to keep that curiosity and interest alive, even in these unique times. Concordia Reception students continue to amaze us with their resilience and inquisitive nature every day!