In my graduate course work I read the article Subitizing: What Is It? Why Teach It? by Douglass Clements. This article shed light on the struggles my students with learning disabilities face on a daily basis. I realized the inability to subitize was at the root of their challenges with conceptualizing mathematical ideas. I had always known that they floundered with this, but I did not connect it to spatial awareness and mathematical understanding. To develop these skills I started incorporating Quick Looks into our routines using Grayson Wheatley’s Quick Draw images. In doing so my students began to develop spatial sense, vocabulary and the ability to explain and justify their thinking and then were able to visualize and conceptualize more complex mathematical ideas.
This school year I will be working with first through third grade students who are considered to be intellectually disabled. Number sense is a huge barrier for these students, and I know I must work to develop their spatial sense and ability to subitize before they are able to take on more complex number sense big ideas. With this in mind I revisited this Quick Draw site to look for developmentally appropriate quick looks to utilize, but it wasn’t quite what I had in mind. I then visited Flash and that got me closer to what I was looking for. I think this is a great site, but I believe my students will have to work up to it. Then I remembered the awesome Apple App, Subitize Tree and began to wonder how I could use it with a whole group when I only have one IPad in my classroom. I talked with our district tech guru and he told me about the Splashtop app that will allow me to project what is on the IPad onto my interactive white board. The app will not be interactive on the white board, but we can all have ten frames and participate in the activity. I envision us allowing the app to show us the image and then each student replicating what they see on a ten frame using counters. I will ask students what they saw, or how they knew it was five for example. I will ask them to model for us with different colored counters their thinking. I am hoping that putting words to their thinking and then hearing how others subitized and visualized will help each of them to recognize and adopt viable strategies to subitize.
Are you ready? Subitize!