Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Supporting Numeracy Development Through Project-Based Learning

Throughout the school year, my junior and senior kindergarten students engage in a variety of project-based learning activities. What are my goals for project-based learning at such a young age?
-students will cooperate and collaborate with others to identify real-world issues that are important to them
-students will develop and implement action plans that address these important issues/topics
-students will use ICT responsibly to build knowledge, achieve curricular outcomes, and think critically/creatively in authentic situations
-students will become informed, responsible decision-makers, playing active roles as global citizens' who contribute to the well-being of others

Watch an overview of our project-based learning with our partner classroom, Mrs. Obach's Grade 1 students!

In the past few years, project-based learning has become very engaging and interdisciplinary in my junior and senior kindergarten program. As the teacher, it is my job to identify relevant teaching and learning experiences and skills that are crucial to the students' abilities to implement their plan. Often, mathematics skills are strongly developed within the context of project-based learning. Take a look at the skills developed and curricular outcomes achieved as we've explored some very real issues in our projects! Many times, students don't realize that they are "doing math". Instead they are acquiring and using skills that are paramount to the success of their real-world project. This is learning for a purpose at its finest!

Hopping to Help: when a student brought a frog for show and tell, everyone became very interested in researching frogs. When the students learned that the Oregon spotted frog was an endangered species, they held an iced tea and lemonade sale to raise money to help with preservation efforts.

What important mathematical learning occurred during this project?

1. Students conducted surveys to determine which drink was most popular. They surveyed students in the school using clipboards and tally marks. They reached a larger audience using Survey Monkey and social media. 

 Once students collated the data, they learned that iced tea was the most popular drink. The next job was to estimate how many glasses of iced tea were in each jug. Students made a graph on the SMART Board to share their predictions.
 Students measured and counted to make many batches of homemade iced tea.
 Students experimented with jugs of water and glasses to increase their understanding of capacity.
Students experimented with fractions and practiced reading numerals as they mixed and baked cookies for the sale.
Students themselves identified that they would need to learn how to use money for the iced tea and cookie sale. We decided that what was most important was that they learn to recognize the coins and bills and how much they were worth, and adults would help them make change. We used our interactive response system to practice money skills and played with coins at our practice iced tea and lemonade centre.
 Students counted how many students were in each classroom, recording on a clipboard. They counted and labelled notes (printing the grade and number of students) to distribute to each classroom advertising the sale.
 Students held two sales: one outside the Co-op store and one at school. Students counted cookies, glasses, and jugs of lemonade. They estimated how many cookies would fit on a plate and counted to check.
 When the sale was over, we worked together to count coins and bills, exploring how skip counting could make the task easier.
Throughout the project, a great deal of real-life problem-solving took place, allowing different students to shine--not just those with strong academic skills. Through play and project-based learning, a variety of rich mathematical learning can take place!


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