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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