For the past couple of weeks, we've been talking about a newly-released guide from the US Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences entitled Teaching Math to Young Children. They provide 5 recommendations for teaching math to young children. The first two recommendations are to “teach number and operations using a developmental progression” and to “teach geometry, patterns, measurement, and data analysis using a developmental progression.” This week, we will talk about the third recommendation, to “use progress monitoring to ensure that math instruction builds on what each child knows.”
Through the first two recommendations, we understand the numbers, operations, and concepts children need to understand to help them explore and explain their world. Like anything else that we do in teaching children, we need to identify which of these concepts each child has mastered and which ones need more practice. We can then teach new concepts sequentially.
The recommended strategies for progress monitoring include:
- Use introductory activities, observations, and assessments to determine each child’s existing math knowledge, or the level of understanding or skill he or she has reached on a developmental progression. You are probably already doing this in compiling portfolios on each child and/or utilizing developmental checklists on a regular basis.
- Tailor instruction to each child’s needs, and relate new ideas to his or her existing knowledge. What interests the child and how can you use that interest to further his or her understanding of the math concept you are teaching? For example—count the musical instruments, arrange the dinosaurs by size, sort the blocks by shape.
- Assess, record, and monitor each child’s progress so that instructional goals and methods can be adjusted as needed. Does the child need more practice in a particular skill or is he or she ready to move on to the next concept?
For more information and suggestions on implementing these recommendations, check out the guide at: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/pdf/practice_guides/early_math_pg_111313.pdf#page=18