Becoming a Mathematician and Scientist

In Cambridge, all students in grades K-5 use the TERC Investigations curriculum as resources. Students in Lorna’s class use the Building Blocks curriculum. All of these Math curricula are hands-on, colorful, interactive and encourage children to solve problems and explain their thinking with words, objects, pictures, and numbers. The hands-on manipulation of objects—such as pattern blocks, interlocking cubes, and teddy bear counters—leads to analytical thinking that is engaging and useful to children. As they explore materials—counting, sorting, classifying, measuring, comparing and noting similarities, differences, and attributes—children construct new understandings.

Math Workshop begins with a teacher-led lesson about a new activity. Children then work in teams on activities to practice new math vocabulary (e.g. fewest, rhombus, minus), skills (e.g. breaking a number into its parts), and concepts (e.g. one to one correspondence--only count each item once). Games are a vehicle through which we teach and reinforce this content. Math Workshop frequently ends with a final math meeting during which we share new discoveries and ask questions.

Opportunities for scientific inquiry abound in kindergarten. Kindergarteners will use their 5 senses and simple tools to become enthusiastic and careful observers. Students will learn the process of science notebook entries and observational drawings. They will learn to enhance entries with details, data, labels, and reflections throughout the year. Science will involve learning important process skills such as how to question, hypothesize, make predictions, reason and explain about observed and inferred phenomena, and the importance of supporting claims with evidence.

We use these important inquiry and process skills during our studies of water and sand, construction, and organisms. We will also use inquiry skills as we undertake project- based learning expeditions. Children will definitely have new content understandings by the end of the school year, and will begin to see themselves as scientists.