Friday, October 30, 2015

Flashcards for Fact Fluency

 Flashcard Bundle

I wanted to give a little bit more information to those of you who have asked about my flashcards. I created three different formats of the flashcards I use as part of my fact fluency program, so you can pick which format works best for you. These can be used in a variety of was to meet your classroom needs. I used mine as daily practice to teach fact families. There are no operation signs (+, -, x, ÷) on purpose. The goal of these flashcards is to help your students understand how the fact families are related.

(You can grab my Fact Fluency Bundle I lovingly called Mighty Math by clicking on the link. I also have separate files for Addition and Subtraction and Multiplication and Division.)

First, print off your flashcards on colored card stock. Make sure to print off the addition and subtraction cards in a different color. This will help you easily keep track of what each set of flashcards covers. 

 Flashcard Bundle

Second, cut off the corners on one side. This will help you keep all your flashcards going the same direction. It ensures that the cards are not flipped upside down or backwards.

 Flashcard Bundle

It's the little things. :) 

I stand in front of the class with my set of flashcards. We then look at the first one and say a very specific set of phrases. It may sound redundant, but I promise you it’s powerful. I’ll use the fact 2x3 for my example.
2 times 3 is 6.
3 times 2 is 6.
6 divided by 2 is 3.
6 divided 3 by is 2.
 2, 3, 6.
 2, 3, 6.

When we get to the last part where we just say the three numbers, we hold up a finger for each number. This gets their bodies involved. We also switch it up by using silly voices, whispering, etc. I don’t recommend doing EVERY flashcard EVERY time. That gets very tedious and repetitive. I would do 5-10 minutes worth max. Try to keep the phrases moving fairly quickly.

I promise your students will benefit from these flashcards if they are used daily. I had kids in Special Education, ELL’s, and a wide range of learners. Every child benefited from practicing their math facts this way. This completely changed how I taught my math facts. 

You can grab the addition and subtraction flashcards, the multiplication and division flashcards, or the BUNDLE by clicking on the links. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Math Fact Mastery for Every Student

 Math Fact Fluency

Something that I always struggled with was how to teach my students their math facts. In 3rd grade, I was responsible for their multiplication and division facts, but many came to me not knowing their addition or subtraction facts. It put me in a hard place. How do I teach my students ALL the facts for the four operations in one year?

I tried many different approaches: worksheets of 100 problems printed off the internet, flashcards, timed tests, and a program called Rocket Math. Rocket Math was an interesting approach. It was very scheduled and regimented. The students would get a card with four new facts on it. They would practice saying those out loud a certain amount of times on their own and then with a partner. Then, they would take a timed test. If they passed, they got a different card with new facts to memorize the next time. The facts were necessarily related to each other and it took a lot of prep work. We had to beg for parent volunteers to come check these daily tests and switch out all the cards and practice sheets for each student. Still, I was willing to do this if my kids learned their facts. At the end of the year, I noticed that there was no major improvement. Those kids who knew their facts in the beginning, still knew them. Those kids who struggled, still struggled. So what to do?

My teaching partner had a really strong feeling that students would do well if they could see how the facts within fact families were related. We wanted our kids to see that these facts are not just arbitrary numbers to memorize, but that there are groups of related facts that make sense. So we came up with a plan.

 Fact Fluency Program by Create-abilities

Step 1:
We created flashcards that had the 3 numbers that went with the fact family. We didn't put signs in on purpose. When we practiced these, our students would says "two plus three is five. three plus two is five, five minus three is two, five minus two is three. Two, three, five. Two, three five." This may sound tedious (and it does take longer than normal flashcards), but it worked!! Our kids began seeing these numbers together and we were practicing two operations at once. We practiced these for 5-10 minutes a day and it worked miracles. We did things like silly voices, whispers, etc. to make it more fun.

Step 2:
We created Mighty Math. This was our own fact fluency program to help our kids in ways we hadn't found anywhere else. This is the general idea we came up with when creating our order:

Teaching addition and subtraction in this order has been empirically shown to improve learning outcomes (see link for more details: ). Students begin with 0’s and 1’s because these link to their counting        experiences. Sums can easily be found by “counting on”. Again, subtraction facts are included on each page so students begin to see the connection between the two. Ten as an addend is explored next to help students with their automaticity. This is a critical skill as students can use +10 facts as a way to simplify other facts that are near ten ( 8 + 4 is simplified to 10 + 2). Doubles are taught next to help with automaticity and recall on more complex facts. Next comes making ten. These facts also help build automaticity with more complex facts later on. After these facts, each fact from 2-9 is covered individually. Then, as an option at the end, a making 9’s set is included. This set will help students when they need to learn their 9’s multiplication facts. (9 x 3 can be thought of as one less than 3 which is 2. 2 plus what number equals 9? 7. The answer is 27.)

Students are given a timer Monday-Thursday as part of their math routine. They are timed for two minutes. In those two minutes they must complete the addition side and the subtraction sides. You can have the students trade them and grade them or you can collect them and grade them yourself. Answer keys have been provided.

We also created corresponding tests that the students take on Fridays. For example, if they have been on add/subtract 2’s for their timers all week, they will take the add/subtract 2’s test on Friday. If they pass this test with 100%, they move on to the next level of timer. I print the tests front to back and time each test for two and a half minutes.    

 Fact Fluency Program by Create-abilities

 I'm telling you this changed my fact fluency teaching. My kids KNEW their facts. The 4th grade teachers actually came down the next year and complimented us on how well that first group of kids knew their stuff.

You can grab my Fact Fluency Bundle here and try it in your room. I promise you, you won't regret it!

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