For most schools in Ontario, this upcoming week marks two big celebrations: Valentine’s Day and the 100th Day of School. This post is about one of these: the 100th Day. My thinking on this day has evolved a lot over the years. This really started three years ago when I taught Grade 1, and began to question the authenticity of the 100th Day of School. Aligning with my one word goal, I decided to make some changes to the day, and these changes evolved even more thanks to some comments on this blog post of mine. This day was far from perfect, but it was the last time that I celebrated the 100th Day of School … and likely the last time that I will.
This week though, the 100th day of school comes up again, and I see many blog posts of Kindergarten and Grade 1 students preparing for this day. I know that Grade 1 really focuses on the numbers up to 100, but I wondered about Kindergarten. I thought our document emphasized the number amounts to 10, which is why my teaching partner, Paula, and I have really focused on understanding and working with these quantities. It was this thinking that led to this tweet of mine.
I'm seeing more & more examples of K students working up to 100. Wondering if there's value in slowing down & truly exploring quantities to 10. Will a more thorough understanding of 10 help kids as they begin to work with larger amounts in older grades?
— Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) January 27, 2018
My tweet resulted in some responses on Twitter, including the following ones.
I think focusing a ton on 0 to 10 is huge, but we also don’t want to limit students to that range either. All about student readiness and “how” we go about extending further. Skip counting by 5’s to 100 is fun, but do they “get” what they’re doing?
— Kyle Pearce (@MathletePearce) January 28, 2018
Yes yes yes! Anchors of 5 and 10 and how numbers relate sooooo important
— Cathy Buchanan (@cathybuc70) January 30, 2018
Hmm… this is interesting. I believe they can count higher than 10 leaving the k program but perhaps looking at numbers 1-10 more closely: skip counting, one to one correspondence, etc… perhaps I should take a look at our program and see what we can offer to the students!
— Jen Balido-Cadavez (@jenabee_c) January 30, 2018
Yes! I focus on ten and spend a long time composing and decomposing numbers to ten.
— Angie Harrison (@TechieAng) January 28, 2018
As I read through these tweets, I began to wonder, what does the Kindergarten Document explicitly say? I read this document a couple of years ago now, and while I remember the focus on quantities to 10, I wondered if there was more. Was I missing something here? So today, I went back through the document and had a look. Here’s what I found.
I think it’s the term “meaningful” that’s key here. Our Kindergarten Document does not negate the value in looking at bigger numbers, but in an authentic way that also aligns with where students are at developmentally. In the example provided, both children could be right, but an interest in big numbers also provides an opportunity to explore beyond 0-10.
This Kindergarten Document example makes me think about the Boat City that students have started to create in our classroom. Yesterday, they pointed out to Paula some of the floating shops that are part of the city.
We’d love to have them cover some of these shops next week, and even add some names to them as a way of incorporating even more reading and writing into this space. What if they also added shop numbers? We could even look online at some of the addresses of favourite places in Ancaster. What are the numbers? How do we read them? How might we organize them? This could definitely provide an opportunity to explore numerals beyond 10, but in a meaningful context.
This makes me wonder about who determines “meaningfulness.” In the case of Boat City, the children determined the interest. We extended it, and are exploring more ways to connect the literacy and mathematics behaviours to the students’ play. Who’s driving the 100th Day explorations? How are they creating these authentic links to learning? Maybe there are ways to celebrate the 100th Day and still hold true to the Program Document, while also extending children’s understanding of number amounts. I would love to hear what others have tried and what they consider during the planning process.
I think that we’re lucky to teach in Ontario, with a play-based Kindergarten Program Document, which really allows us to dig deeper instead of graze the surface of more. But knowing the Grade 1 math expectations, do we sometimes feel the pressure to do more? We also all teach students that can count orally well beyond 10, and even work with number amounts beyond 10. And while I love listening to the number debates around the eating table, and the math thinking as kids ask each other addition questions, I also worry if math is just seen as the asking and answering of addition and subtraction questions.
Love how they just started talking math around the eating table today. A bit of a debate about what comes next … Then led to a look at number patterns. ❤️❤️❤️ #engagemath #mathchat cc @john_gris pic.twitter.com/OKGXteDCxX
— Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) January 9, 2018
How do we get children to see and critically think about math in their world? Can a 100th Day Celebration play a role in this, or is it highlighting a different message? As uncomfortable as these answers may make us feel, I think these questions are worth thinking about. What about you?