Students learning Number Sense early

Originally Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2009, 5:47 pm
Last Updated: Oct. 30, 2009, 1:06 pm
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By Nicole Lauer,
Longfellow kindergarten students and their Augustana math buddies played a frenzy of math games last Wednesday.

The fuchsia and bright orange Play-Doh, towers of colorful blocks and puzzles look like fun and games, but all the activity really amounts to specialized small group learning to give youngsters a boost with their math skills and future elementary education teachers a hands-on lesson in working in the classroom.

Augustana education professor Mike Egan leads the group made up of Longfellow kindergarten students and Augustana junior elementary education majors. The math buddies have been meeting weekly since August as part of Augustana's Number Sense initiative.

Mr. Egan said research has shown what a student learns about math before entering first grade has proven to be a powerful indicator for their future success in math.

"The research is clear that this is a pivotal age," he said. "We hope to make sure the children progress and are really ready to go."

Last Wednesday's math buddy session involved several stations where two Augustana students and three Longfellow students worked on unique tasks geared toward areas the elementary students need to improve.

At one table, Lauren Jerzyk worked with a group of boys to solve subtraction problems using a software program on a laptop. Ms. Jerzyk said the computer games captured the boys' attention and kept them focused. In addition to staying on task, the boys did well at solving problem after problem during the session that lasted a little more than a half hour.

"How many were there? How many fell out? How many are still hiding under there?" Ms. Jerzyk asked, guiding the students through the computer game. "You guys are so good at this game. It must be your X-ray vision."

Mr. Egan said at some stations students are working with puzzle pieces to master counting to 10, another more advanced group is using blocks, dice and colored circles to count all the way to 100, and another group of girls who are struggling writing their numbers use Play-Doh to form the numerals.

"A single teacher can't individualize like this to each child's needs," he said. "The extra manpower is pretty intensive."

Mr. Egan said overall the program is going very well. Sometimes his college students are frustrated in the growth rate of their kindergarten students, but he said it's an important lesson to learn that children don't always develop at the rate you expect and sometimes they surprise you by picking up things more quickly.

Augustana student Julie Jordan said she's excited to be a part of the program.

"We love it," she said. "This is the first year that they are doing it, and we are learning so much more."

Longfellow kindergarten teacher Vicki Peterson said her students look forward to the weekly visits by the Augustana students, and she thinks their efforts are making an impact.

"Anytime you can get more help in the classroom," she said.

She said the Number Sense program fits in well with the district's pilot math program, Math Trailblazers, which some of the schools are trying out. The pilot program, which incorporates many manipulatives and games, will be used throughout the district if the try-out proves successful, she said.


Local events heading

  Today is Tuesday, July 22, the 203rd day of 2014. There are 162 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Everybody is invited to go on a moonlight excursion next Monday evening on the steamer New Boston. The trip will be from Davenport to Muscatine and back.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The mayor and bridge committee let a contract to the Clinton Bridge company for a $1,125 iron bridge across Sears canal near Milan.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Injunction proceedings to compel the Central Association to keep a baseball team in Rock Island for the remainder of the season were contemplated by some of the Rock Island fans, but they decided to defer action.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The first of the new and more powerful diesel engines built for the Rock Island Lines for the proposed Chicago-Denver run, passed thru the Tri-Cities this morning.
1964 -- 50 years ago: The Rock Island Rescue Mission is negotiating for the purchase of the Prince Hall Masonic Home located at 37th Avenue and 5th Street, Rock Island.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Quad Cities Container Terminal is being lauded as a giant business boon that will save several days and hundreds of dollars on each goods shipment to the coasts. The Quad Cities Container Terminal is the final piece of the puzzle that opens up increase access to world markets, Robert Goldstein said.

(More History)