WHY do we need to help our students become fluent in basic math facts? And HOW can do that? I am so glad you asked! I will be answering those two questions for us!
Let’s start with the WHY:
“Math facts fluency leads to higher order mathematics. Through automaticity students free up their working memory and can devote it to problems solving and learning new concepts and skills (Geary, 1994).
Quite simply, a lack of fluency in basic math facts will significantly hinder a child’s subsequent progress in problem-solving, algebra, and higher order math concepts. Math fact fluency not only affects our students’ future success in math, but also in science and geography.
For these, and probably a zillion more, the Common Core Standards require us to teach Math Fact Fluency:
1OA Understand and apply properties of operations and the relationship between addition and subtraction.
1OA.3. Apply properties of operations as strategies to add and subtract.3 Examples: If 8 + 3 = 11 is known, then 3 + 8 = 11 is also known. (Commutative property of addition.) To add 2 + 6 + 4, the second two numbers can be added to make a ten, so 2 + 6 + 4 = 2 + 10 = 12. (Associative property of addition.)
1OA.4 Understand subtraction as an unknown-addend problem. For example, subtract 10 – 8 by finding the number that makes 10 when added to 8.
1OA.5 Add and subtract within 20.1OA.6 Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within 10. Use strategies such as counting on; making ten (e.g., 8 + 6 = 8 + 2 + 4 = 10 + 4 = 14); decomposing a number leading to a ten (e.g., 13 – 4 = 13 – 3 – 1 = 10 – 1 = 9); using the relationship between addition and subtraction (e.g., knowing that 8 + 4 = 12, one knows 12 – 8 = 4); and creating equivalent but easier or known sums.
2OA.2 Add and subtract within 20. Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies.2 By end of Grade 2, know from memory all sums of two one-digit numbers.
3.2 NBT Fluently add and subtract within 1000 using strategies and algorithms based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction.
So we know the WHY – let’s talk about the HOW!
Here are 3 Tips to make math fact fluency teaching and practice more effective for your students.
Tip #1: Teach the Mental Math Strategies
I had a huge ‘aha’ moment years ago, when I had moved from teaching kindergarteners for years to 2nd grade. The students were taking a timed math facts test so I could assess their level of mastery, and I thought I should know how long it would take me to complete the page of math facts. So I took it. I was amazed at how I was thinking as I was answering – I did not have many of the facts memorized, but I was using the mental math strategies to derive the answers! WOW! and I was super fast. Even though I did not have them memorized, I understood the relationships, so I knew the answer almost ‘automatically’!
And of course, research bears this out – students who are taught mental math strategies are quicker in computing than students who are taught to just ‘memorize it’.
I created and use these anchor posters to teach and reinforce the mental math strategies. They are also helpful to put on your classroom walls for students to quickly refer to as they are doing math.
Tip #2: Daily Practice – 10-15 Minutes a Day
“To build math fact fluency, the most effective strategy is to give students 10-15 minutes per day to practice using what are called derived facts strategies (DFS). Essentially, DSF’s are using facts you know to solve facts you don’t know.” Sam Strother, Associate Director Developing Mathematical Thinking Institute.
Don’t you love that term- Derived Facts Strategies because it describes the process? We derive from what we know. . . to a new fact. As teachers we MUST make time in our already packed day to provide this 10-15 minutes practice per day. Gone are the days when we can tell the parents to teach it at home. Most parents don’t have the time, or the mathematical understanding to teach using Mental Math Strategies – or DSF. Read Strategies that Increase Math Fact Fluency to learn more about Derived Facts.
Tip #3: Use Engaging Activities
We know from experience and research that students learn best when they feel safe and are engaged in a fun activity – enter math games, student goal setting, and cooperative learning activities!
All of the following activities use these 3 tips and are:
- Based on the Mental Math Strategies
- Take 10-15 minutes per day
- Super engaging!
Students love the superhero theme! Most of the resources in this bundle us these engaging graphics to captivate your students attention from the start! You will find these cute and engaging Super Hero graphics in most of these Addition and Subtraction Fluency Resources. Tell your kids that mental math strategies are their super powers in math!
Your students will enjoy playing these engaging Super Hero games with their friends and becoming more fluent in their addition and subtraction math facts in the process! Learning Games provide a fun, not-threatening opportunity for students to get the needed practice to become fluent in their math facts.
They will be engaged and having fun. You will not have any papers to grade! Sounds like a WIN WIN! There is a GAME and mini POSTER for each of the following mental math addition strategies mentioned above.
Engaging Partner Activities
‘Fast as a Flash’
Your students will indeed become fast as a flash with this super engaging and motivating activity! Once your students learn the routine, they will increase their math fact fluency in less than 10 minutes a day! And you will have NO PAPERS TO GRADE!
I have been using these engaging activities in my classroom for years and I know from experience that my students got ‘Fast as a Flash’ with addition and subtraction math facts.
I hope you are inspired with these 3 tips!
- Teach the Mental Math Strategies
- Practice 10-15 minutes each day
- Use Engaging Activities
Click here to try one of the games for FREE that will help you implement all 3 tips:
- It uses the mental math strategy, “Count On +2”.
- Provides great 10-15 minute practice.
- Super engaging!