3 Tips to Build Math Fact Fluency

Saturday, February 22, 2020


Let’s face it: math fact fluency for our students is necessary, but the typical fact repetition isn’t always the most engaging form of practice. I am always searching for fun AND exciting ways to help build fact fluency in my classroom. Having proficiency in math facts helps lay the foundation for future mathematicians, but I know it needs to be switched up from time to time.

Here are a few fresh ideas that I have found for my classroom and I hope you can incorporate them into your classroom routine as well!

1. Focus on Mental Math Strategies

In order for students to become fluent with math facts, they must have a variety of go-to strategies in their toolbox to pull from when they become stumped. Instead of focusing on memorizing facts, teach strategies to help students understand the relationship between numbers. Strategies like using doubles and make a ten are powerful. Having strategy posters displayed around the room is helpful for students! I also like to challenge by students to show me what strategy they used to solving a problem, and then ask them to find another strategy they could have used. It helps to strengthen those number connections!

2. Make it Fun and Engaging

If you want student buy-in for math fact practice, you have to make it exciting for them. There are many easy ways to do this!

Games

The minutes I say “game” in my classroom, I immediately have buy-in. My students love any opportunity to play a game, and they don’t even realize that they are learning or practicing their skills! I have several addition and subtraction games and activities in my Let's Add and Let’s Subtract pack that my kids play throughout the year. They can be used in small groups, with a partner, independently, and even for homework. Many of the games also have differentiated options to support all levels of learning.



Partner Work

I find that my students are way more engaged in the learning activity when they get an opportunity to work with a partner! They get an opportunity to talk about math/adding numbers, learn from one another and most of all, have fun! Partner work can be super simple too. You can use a deck of cards and have students add or subtract as they both flip a card over, or do a similar activity with dice! It doesn’t have to be complicated, because your students will love the opportunity to work with a friend!

Songs

If you’re not singing in your classroom, what are you doing with with your life?! Haha! All jokes aside, music is one of the best ways to build lasting connections with your students! Here are some of my go-to songs for building math fluency!






3. Weekly Practice

Number talks are a great way to build math fact fluency, but not just with the standard rote memorization. With number talks, students are encouraged to share how they solved a problem, they get to listen to strategies from other students and prove their thinking. After implementing number talks with my students, I saw gains in my students number sense and place value understanding, mental math abilities and math fact fluency. My students actually looked forward to this part of our day and didn’t want to miss out on our number talks. If you want to learn more about how I conduct number talks, including paperless number talks, in my classroom, you can head over to this post.


While fact fluency does not come easy for every student, having these quick and easy tips to refer back to and incorporate into your classroom will hopefully help to build that fluency with your students! 
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Building Number Sense in the Classroom

Saturday, February 1, 2020


Number sense is such an important skill for our students to have. This can be something that we can forget to incorporate into our lessons, but it’s something that should not be overlooked. There are many ways you can easily incorporate this into your math routine plus, building number sense and teaching number relationships does not have to take up a ton of time.

I want to share some of my number sense routines and activities that I have used over the years that have been so effective in building number sense with my students.

Number Talks

What is a number talk?

A number talk is a short discussion between teacher and students about how to solve a given math problem.

How does it work?

At the beginning of your math block, you present each problem and give your students wait time. Students mentally figure out the answer (no paper or pencil) and give a thumbs up to show that they have at least one solution. (Students can put additional fingers up if they have more than one way to solve the problem. For example, two fingers up means I have two ways to solve the problem). After sufficient wait time, students can share their thinking as the teacher records their responses. During this time, the teacher can ask questions like: "How did you get your answer?" and/or "Why did you use that strategy?" You will want to include those incorrect responses in your number talks as well.

Why is it effective in building number sense?

Students are given an opportunity to grapple and reason with numbers and problems independently. Number talks encourages your students to discuss how they came up with their answers. When students speak about their process and answers, they can uncover mistakes, self-correct and develop an understanding of different strategies for solving problems.

I love using digital/paperless number talks in my classroom. Number Talks are all about the process of mental math computation and sharing strategies, so the digital/paperless format was perfection. All I have to do is display on my board and the number talk is ready! I have these resources available for easy use in my TpT store and they are organized by grade level. Click on your grade level to get started with digital number talks today!

                   

Math Journals

What is a math journal?

A math journal is a composition notebook where students are given math prompts to glue and solve in their journal.

How do math journals work?

At the beginning of math workshop, I pass out a math journal prompt to each student to glue into their math journals. After reading the prompt/problem together a couple of times as a whole class, the students work independently for about 5 minutes to solve the problem. Then, you can share as a class how you solved the problem. Encourage different strategies to be shared.

Why is it effective in building number sense?

Math journals allow students to stretch their thinking! Math journals give students opportunities to share and talk about how they solved a problem. It is during this time that students are able to justify their reasoning while also evaluating strategies from their classmates.
 

It's never too late to start incorporating math journals into your classroom today. These math journals are a great resource for your classroom, just print and you're on your way! 

Number Sense Games

Incorporating games into your math routine is a great way for students to work on building their number sense.

These place value games keep the content engaging for your students and can be easily incorporated into independent center time. It's a great way for students to explore number relationships through number sense games!


No matter what approach you take to building number sense with your students, the most important thing you can do is to help students see math as fun.

Check out some of my favorite manipulatives to use when teaching number sense:
Teacher Created Resources Foam Base Ten Set 

Base Ten Place Value Frame


 Mini Rekenreks


Unifix Cubes

Ten Frame Dice

Magnetic Ten Frame Set

120 Chart Mat


Dry Erase 100 Charts

Place Value Disks


Dry Erase Number Lines
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Ring in the New Year with Kindness

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
I can't think of a better way to start out the new year in my classroom than reinforcing the importance of kindness! Our world sure does need more of it right now. Having conversations and brainstorming how we can show kindness encourages our kids to go out and practice it. I created a simple, just print activity where your students can do just that- 20 Ways to Show Kindness in 2020. Download it for free here.

Happy New Year!!
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