Creating a safe environment to “think aloud” in math is necessary to foster math literacy. Students should feel comfortable verbalizing what method they used to solve a problem. This is such an important component to successful math lessons that the Common Core Standards include the objective in the list of eight mathematical practices. The list of eight practices remains the same from kindergarten through grade five.
From the beginning of the year rules should be implemented and followed every day during math lessons. Students can even be involved in setting the rules so that they feel an ownership. In kindergarten the most important thing is for the teacher to model the behavior she or he expects. You should always use correct math vocabulary and encourage respect for each other.
Objective: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. MP.3
- Half sheets of paper and pencils
Previous Knowledge: Students are familiar with the concept of addition. The students are comfortable with using counters, drawings, acting out situations or counting their fingers to solve addition problems.
Put the students in pairs and have the supplies readily accessible. Then say, “I am going to give you a story problem to solve. When you gather again on the carpet I want you to be able to show your friends how you solved the problem.”
Story problem to read: Lilly has four red balls. Mom gives her six blue balls. How many balls does Lilly have in all? (On the board you may write: 4 red, 6 blue.)
Allow a few minutes for the students to work.
Gather the students together in a circle. Students should sit with partners and bring whatever they used to solve the problem.
Repeat the story problem. Then say,
- “ What is the problem asking?” (How many in all?)
- “There are a few ways that you can find the answer. There is not just one way.”
- “We are going to take turns sharing the method used to solve the problem. Remember that your job is to listen to your friends. You may not “put down” someone if they use a different way to solve the problem.”
Students will share the methods they used: counters, drawings, fingers, acting out or mental math.
Every math lesson should include some sharing of ideas. Use teachable moments during the day to incorporate the math talk.
For example, “Six students brought their lunches and eleven students are buying a lunch. How many in all?” This may seem like a difficult computation for your kindergarten students but there will be someone who pops up with the answer. Then ask, “How did you come up with that answer?” Other students will learn something from their peers, and you will learn the thinking process of the student with the answer.
- Kuhns, Catherine and Lasater, Marrie. Common Core Math in Action. Crystal Springs Books, 2013.