On Halloween night, I gathered a bagful of candy trick-or-treating as Abraham Lincoln. I went alone, and gathered candy for a counting lesson in Mrs. Shapiro’s class. For Day 11, I brought my bag of candy with the candy I had gathered from Halloween to count with the students the previous day to ensure it was there for today’s lesson.
I entered the classroom right after the students had completed their table activities, and Free Time had begun.
I went to the back room to retrieve the candy I had brought. I originally was planning on counting the candy with the class. Mrs. Shapiro preferred that I count my candy during Free Time, so I did.
I made an announcement to the class that I had brought in a bag of Halloween candy, and that any student who wanted to help me count it could do so. Four students came to help me—Patrick, Robert, Peter, and Alex. I dumped the candy onto the floor, and then proceeded to count each piece and put it back in the bag, followed by the other kids. We all took turns in a specific order, counting pieces of candy. I led the counting, and together we counted up to 50. After counting up to 50, I instructed the students I was counting with to count in 2s, and to pick up 2 pieces of candy at a time. With 2 pieces of candy, we counted from 50 to 100.
With a large pile of candy still needing to be counted, I instructed the four students to count by 3s, and would pick up 3 pieces of candy at a time. We counted from 100 to 150. By this time one student—Peter—had grown bored and left. So I now started counting by 4 pieces of candy, and by 4s, until Patrick, Alex, and Robert, had reached 175. By this time the students were ready to do something else, so I finished counting alone. I finally got to 186 pieces of candy, and told the students that I had finished counting, and what the final result was.
Shortly afterwards, Free Time was over, and the bell rang to signal Clean-Up Time.
Mrs. Shapiro told me that her printer had stopped working properly in the classroom, and that the pictures that her students had drawn on the computer had been sent to the Computer Lab printer. I asked her if I could go to the Computer Lab to pick up the printed pictures. I did, collected them from the Computer Lab teacher, and put the pictures in the backpacks of the students who drew them.
Once Clean-Up Time ended, Mrs. Shapiro asked the students to sit in their rows. With the class seated, she showed them an example of a booklet that each student would complete during the year—a “Numbers All Around” booklet. The packet consisted of each number from 0 to 10, one line for writing each number, and then a large box. Each page had a specific number on it.
Mrs. Shapiro instructed each student on how they were to complete each page in the packet—they were to write each number repeatedly until they completed the “line,” and then they were to think of a “number story.” A “number story” was a short story, lasting only a paragraph, in which the student would talk about how she had a certain number of something, but ended up with only the number of that thing that was specified on the page. (For example: If the page showed the number 2, and there was a line to practice writing the number 2, the student would have to think of a story where she had a certain number of things, but for whatever reason, ended up with 2 of those things at the end of the story. A number story could also consist of a math problem where the answer was the number. In this case, 5 – 3 = 2 could be a legitimate number story, since it shows math skills not expected in this grade level. Mrs. Shapiro does not spend much time teaching math to her students.)
After explaining the students how to write a number story, she instructed the students to go back to their tables, where their individual “Numbers All Around” booklets had been placed, and to complete the “0” page. They were to complete the unfinished line of writing 0’s, and then Mrs. Shapiro and I would go from student to student and write their number story onto the page. Then they would draw a picture describing the number story they had just written.
I went to each table, asking if students needed their number stories to be written. Brittany did not ask me for help, but was having trouble writing her 0s properly. She was writing them as lower-case “o”s and not 0s. I instructed her how to write her 0s properly but she still was not able to do it properly. I kept instructing her until she became defensive. “I know how to do it. I’m not a 2-year-old,” she replied angrily. I told her that I did not think of her as a 2-year-old but I was just giving her help with her handwriting work.
After I finished helping Brittany, Grace asked me to help her write her story. She told me her story, which I wrote with a black marker on her page: The first story I wrote was Grace’s, who told me her story, which I wrote on her page: “I had 3 lollipops. I gave one to Brittany, one to Julia, and one to Erika. Now I have 0 lollipops.”
While I wrote Grace’s story, I was asked by Erika if I could write her story. When I finished Grace’s story, I told Grace that she now needed to draw herself giving lollipops to others. I went to Erika and wrote her story. Her story had the same premise that Grace’s did: she had 4 candy bars, gave one to Brittany, one to Ellie, one to Grace, and one to Julia. The other girls at the same table also wrote the same story—giving everything of what they had to other students, and ending up with none.
Finally, I had to write a boy’s number story—Cameron’s--and his story was not about giving things to other students. Cameron’s story was this: “I had 3 video games and lost all 3 of them. Now I have 0 video games.”
After writing Cameron’s story, it was time for the students to give Mrs. Shapiro their number packets back, and then return to their rows. When the students were seated, Mrs. Shapiro read to the class some of their number stories. Then she instructed the students to line up for Music. While the students were lining up for Music, I kept myself busy by tidying up some of the tables.
While I was cleaning up some paper scraps, I overheard Mrs. Shapiro telling Brittany that she is not to hit other students, and that she is to miss Music for hitting another student. Having not seen Brittany hit, but trusting Mrs. Shapiro, I did not assist Mrs. Shapiro in maintaining her line to the Music class as I typically do—I stayed to supervise Brittany, and had positioned myself to do that even before Mrs. Shapiro asked me if I could.
While Mrs. Shapiro was gone, I decided I would talk to Brittany. I have known Brittany for over a year from the Daycare center, and Brittany had trouble controlling her aggression at the Daycare center as well. With her, I was quite inconsistent, as I tried a series of discipline techniques—telling her to stop, trying to get it out of her system by initiating an aggressive game, trying to get her to hit me instead of hitting other students. Trying to get her to stop did not work. Trying to get it out of her system did not work. Finally, I told her mother, which worked only after the second time I told her mother. However, she never hit me again afterwards, so it worked.
I told Brittany that it is against the rules to hit other kids in Mrs. Shapiro’s class, and that even though she might have been able to get away with it at the Daycare center, she was not going to be able to get away with it here in kindergarten, or later in school, and that she would have to learn not to hit students.
Mrs. Shapiro returned, and now it was her turn to talk to Brittany. She told Brittany that while she thought of her as a smart girl, she could not tolerate hitting in the classroom, and that her aggression would have to stop. Brittany promised not to hit, and apologized to Mrs. Shapiro, who let her attend Music after she apologized. Since Brittany did not know how to get to Music, I escorted her to the Music classroom.
After returning from the Music room, Mrs. Shapiro explained to me that Brittany has had a lot of problems in the classroom, and has been quite defiant to her. I told her that I had just had a little argument with her during her Numbers All Around earlier that day, and then I told her that perhaps she was trying to defy me by writing her 0s improperly, rather than it being due to difficulty.
After Mrs. Shapiro and I led the students back from Music class, Kindergarten was over, and the students got ready to leave Kindergarten. After they were ready, they were dismissed. After the students had left, I informed Mrs. Shapiro that since I had saved my own “Numbers All Around” booklet from kindergarten, I was wondering if I could show the students my booklet, as a way of teaching them that I was once Mrs. Shapiro’s student, and also to show them the stories I had written when I was in kindergarten.