Little Kids—Powerful Problem Solvers by Angela Andrews, Paul R. Trafton.
Little Kids—Powerful Problem Solvers
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Little Kids—Powerful Problem Solvers

Math Stories from a Kindergarten Classroom

By Angela Andrews, Paul R. Trafton

Ten stories from a real kindergarten classroom provide a comprehensive and compelling picture of what can be accomplished with young children: making sense of math is the focus of the teaching; respecting children's thinking makes it possible.

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Full Description

    As I began reading the book I had not anticipated… that I would want to join a cheering section to encourage [the kindergartners’] efforts—so easily are readers brought into the unfolding interactions and events in the classroom.
    Lilian G. Katz, Professor Emerita, CoDirector, ERIC/EECE, University of Illinois

Angela Andrews and Paul Trafton know from experience that kindergartners can do great math-especially if they are engaged and challenged from the start. This collection of stories from Angela's classroom highlights the problem-solving potential of very young students. Arranged by month of the school year, each of these ten stories is an inspiration for a classroom lesson. Together the stories provide a comprehensive picture of what can be accomplished with little kids: making sense of math is the focus of the teaching; respecting children's thinking makes it possible.

Several major themes recur throughout the stories:

  • the distinction between academic and intellectual goals—the intellectual dispositions in action in this classroom reveal how children can make sense of experience and observations, how they can estimate, predict, hypothesize, analyze, and apply mathematical concepts in practical and visible ways.
  • the real meaning of a "community of learners"—how children can help, occasionally hinder, but ultimately challenge each other.
  • perseverance—the ability of even very young children to persist until they have resolved problems. To see the deep satisfaction kindergartners gain from hard work, or what they call "hard fun," is what makes Angela's day-to-day life in the classroom so wonderful and rewarding.
  • accountability—how teachers can satisfy NCTM principles and standards in math while addressing children's needs and capabilities.

With every story, Angela provides not only a narrative, but also a thoughtful appraisal of her own decisions, dilemmas, and choices in the teaching of math. At the end of each story, Paul Trafton focuses on the math involved and the mathematical reasoning of the children. Clearly evident throughout is the authors' conviction that teachers not only need to understand the math in the problems the children are tackling, but also to listen respectfully and to question them honestly about their thinking. In this way, teachers can support their young students and capitalize on the opportunities at hand, the many "teachable moments" this book so successfully captures.

Contents

Contents:
1. Little Kids—Powerful Problem Solvers
2. September—Which Holds More?
3. October—The Dilemma of Sharing Cookies
4. November—It's Not Fair! They've Got More Blocks
5. December—When Is a "Triangle" a Triangle?
6. January—Soup with Chicken Inside
7. February—The Secret of the Hearts
8. March—Ms. McGill's Challenge
9. April—Aaron and the Tall Tower
10. May—"Dear Bus Barn"
11. June—Revisiting the Rice Table

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