children’s current understandings and that help them construct new knowledge at the next level up—teachers are creating classrooms that are, at one and the same time, learner-centered, knowledge-centered, and assessment-centered.
Because the central conceptual understandings that the program was designed to teach involve the coordination of spatial and numeric concepts, it was deemed important to provide several opportunities for children to explore the number system in a variety of spatial contexts, to scaffold this coordination. The spatial contexts that were created for the Number Worlds program often take the form of game boards on which number is depicted as a position on a line, scale, or dial and on which quantity is depicted as segments on these line, scale, and dial representations. By using a pawn to represent “self” as player and by moving through these contexts to solve problems posed by the game, children gain a vivid sense of the relationship between movement along a line, scale, or dial and increases and decreases in quantity. This experience is illustrated in the following activities.
This game is played in Circle Land at the kindergarten level. It was designed to help children realize that a dial (or a circular path) is another device for representing quantity, and that the same relationships that apply between numbers and movement on a number line apply also to numbers and movement in this context (see Figure 6-5). In this game, a dial is represented as a circular path. By including 10 segments on this path, numbered 0 to 9, this prop provides opportunities for children to acquire an intuitive understanding of the cyclical nature of the base-ten number system. This understanding is explicitly fostered and built upon in activities children encounter later on, at higher levels of the program. The explicit learning objectives that were developed for the Skating Party game are as follows: (1) identify or compute set size, and associate set size with a position on a dial (i.e., a circular path); (2) associate increasing a quantity with moving around a dial; and (3) compare positions on a dial to identify which have more, less, or the same amount, and use this knowledge to solve a problem.
These objectives are achieved as children engage in game play and respond to questions that are posed by the teacher (or by a child serving as group leader). With four children sharing one game board, children start