Friday, April 2, 2010

MAM Day 2: Counting

Wow! Thank you to everyone who came by for a visit yesterday. I'm happy to announce that thanks to Google Analytics, I had 114 pageviews yesterday, which is more than a third of my total pageviews. A record 57 visitors came by which is almost 40% of my total visitors since I started using Analytics. Hah, even blogs run on a background of stats and math. I'm such a nerd...

Today's math subject is counting. Simple no? But think about how many times a day we rely on counting to help us out. In the office, I count page numbers, copies to print out, my work hours, and sometimes the minutes I have left before I get to go home at the end of the day (this hasn't happened in quite some time, but I'm sure some of you know what I mean). As a volunteer coordinator, I keep track of volunteers, students, and teachers and their information in Excel. From time to time I have to put together reports of how many volunteers we have, or how many students have a volunteer and how many don't have an academic mentor. I also track volunteer hours, and counting how many days I have left until a deadline, or the next staff meeting. I also send out surveys to our volunteers and count how many I get back, where they're coming from, etc. At the end of the day, I count how many times the wrong Green branch comes by before mine gets there, then I count how many people crowd the door to hop on the train. It's all counting, more or less.

Counting is probably one of the first things we learn in kindergarden as an introduction to math. Patty cake type games depend on counting, and so does jumping rope. In my several language courses, we've tended to to learn how to count before we jump into verb tenses and building upon our vocabulary. Now, I know how to count up to ten in seven languages. It's easy to count to 10 because we have fingers to use as a manipulative, and sometimes I just like using my fingers to count out loud. Try it! Start off with fists and count to 10, it's oddly relaxing for me. Wikipedia calls this finger counting.

When I work with students, they rely on finger counting to add and subtract. As we move forward with our math skills we can count in our heads, to values beyond 10. Remember hide and go seek? Someone has to count to 20 and I hope that they aren't using their fingers to count. After mental counting, we might also start to skip count. When I played hide and go seek as a youngin', I counted in Vietnamese. Vietnamese counting for hide and go seek goes by fives up to 100. I mastered my five multiplication facts very well. I also came from a family of five siblings, so 5 is my FAVORITE number.

Tallying people for votes is counting, laying in bed counting sheep is counting, the US Census is counting (I'll post more about the Census later in this series), sports scores are counting, world records depend on counting, and the list goes on and on, I should count them...I almost forgot! I could ask the Count, he loves counting too!

"Greetings! I am the Count.
They call me the Count because I love to count things."

While it's helpful for my students, true math mastery comes when we stop counting and depend on an understanding of how numbers can interact with each other in other ways than just being part of a whole number series. However, counting is important to everyone, and a strong mastery of counting is just the beginning to being good at and enjoying math.

If you enjoy counting, post a comment and let us all know how and when you count! Count on friends!


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