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Showing posts with label memorization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label memorization. Show all posts

### 5 Minutes a Day to Math Fact Fluency

After many years in the primary classroom, I've finally developed a sure proof system for math fact fluency.

Math fact fluency is all about memorization.

Before this can happen, the children need to have a basic understanding of what it means. A child can't memorize 5+2=7 Unless they understand they are joining a set of 5 items to a set of 2 items and will end up with 7 items. Once they have that understanding, they can start the memorization process. Once the facts are fluent, the related math concepts will flow far more easily!

Yes, rote memorization is NOT the most fun part of learning.

Yes, it takes work, and some students really struggle, but we know they're all different and can help them be successful at their own levels.

## Here are some suggestions for math fact fluency!

There are 200 Addition and Subtraction facts to be memorized. There are also 200 Multiplication and Division facts to be memorized. Children can be easily overwhelmed if given that many facts all at once!

Give them a pattern of facts to learn at a time. Research tells us children learn best by fact families.

Each child should have a group of facts they are working on, but also a group of facts they know, and don't want to forget! Make sure they spend time reviewing the old facts as well as learning the new bunch!

Be right up front with the students. Talk about what memorization is, and how they need to do the work to memorize the facts. Share the differences between automaticity and "counting on fingers," or "figuring it out in your head." (I don't believe counting on fingers or mental math to be bad, as they are part of the process! However, we hope to get the kiddos to full automaticity eventually!)

Talk to them about what has helped you when you had to memorize something, and encourage them to share their own memorization experiences. We're all different, but sharing ideas will help everyone! (Isn't that our goal? Teaching children to help each other so we are all successful?)

Or as I call it in my classroom, "out soft." That means, loud enough to hear yourself, but not loud enough to disturb your classmates. Verbalizing the whole equation, not just the answer, makes an enormous difference in the learning process!

Practice with friends Children are social. Practicing with a classmate makes practice more fun. Some tend to be a little competitive: let that work for them, as long as everyone is happy about it. Plus, children learn little tricks from each other. (Yes, I've learned a lot of little tricks from listening to my students!)

Timed tests can be motivating for many, but there are others that "choke" with that stress. You know your students better than anyone. I give timed tests once a week, but if I see any signs of stress, I'll pull that child aside and work with them. I make it fun, but when one-on-one, I can clearly see if a child is counting on fingers, pausing to figure it out in their head, or truly has the facts memorized. No matter what, I make sure it is a positive experience with lots of praise for the things the child is doing correctly!

When I feel a child is ready to move to the next level, before school starts, I'll put the next level of practice cards on their desk, to be cut out and sorted. You'd better believe there are shreiks of delight when they are found! I'm sure you know plenty of other ways to celebrate their successes as well!

I spend time at the beginning of the school year setting routines. There are several ways the facts can be practiced: everyone practice on their own, practicing as part of math rotations, small group games, practicing on computers or devices, practicing with a teacher or adult helper, and so on! I usually teach the routines using "easy facts" before we get to the tougher ones. Once the routines are set, they're good to go!

Once a student has proved mastery of all the levels, of addition and subtraction, I might have that child review all the levels again. Another option is to move onto multiplication and division. Although mastery of these facts isn't necessary for first or second graders, those students who master addition and subtraction quickly are usually quite ready for the upper levels. (Just make sure they understand what it all means!)

Another option: have them work with others. Perhaps it's because my dad was a football coach, but I've always felt it's our job to look out for the whole "team," and that concept is well instilled in my students. We have not succeeded until we have all succeeded!

These are my foolproof systems for both levels. I swear by these materials! I've used them for years and found them to be successful (and loved) by both students and teachers.

Fact Fluency System for Addition and Subtraction: The Bundle

## Multiplication and Division Facts:

Fact Fluency System for Multiplication and Division: The Bundle

## or get them both in this bundle:

Math Fact Fluency Practice Activities and Assessments: Level One +1 Fact Families

Math Fact Fluency Practice Activities and Assessments: Level One X1 Fact Families

## The words "Drill and Kill" refer to rote learning.

They imply that rote learning will kill a student's motivation to learn.

With today's technology and all the improvements in the world, do we really still need to include rote learning in education. Don't we want to get the children thinking beyond the basic information?

Well, yes, we certainly do want them to think above the basic information! We want children to learn how to learn, and think beyond that learning! In fact, here's a little reminder of Bloom's Taxonomy:

Of course, we want our students to get to those upper levels of the triangle, but before they get there, they have to do some remembering and understanding.

The remembering part is where rote learning comes into play. These are the building blocks for our learners.

Here are some examples of things that primary students need to learn by rote:
• the alphabet
• letter sounds
• numbers
• math facts
• sight words

Here are some example of things older learners need to learn by rote:
• A football players needs to learn the plays and drills.
• A musician needs to learn the notes and chords.
• An actor needs to learn his lines and movements.
• An airplane pilot needs to learn the purpose of all those buttons.
• A grocery store manager needs to learn what products are sold and where they are located.
• A pharmacist needs to know the names of the prescriptions and dosages.
• A physical therapist needs to know the muscles of the body.
• A member of the clergy needs to know the Bible.

I'm sure you can think of plenty more!
But memorization doesn't have to be painful or miserable for the learner!
Here are some ideas that will help learning basic information be a little more valuable, as well as more fun and  motivating:
Five minutes each day is much better than a half hour, once a week! Research shows a little bit each day is best!

Saying it out loud really helps the memory! If it's a math fact, recite the entire fact, not just the answer. Remember when we learned spelling words we were told to "Say it, spell it, say it?" They were right on track! I've often told my students to say it "out soft." It's not a real expression, but my students know it means, "loud enough to hear yourself, but not loud enough to disturb others!"

Humans need socialization. Learning information tends to "stick" better when students are talking about what they're learning! Quite often, they share tricks that help the learning!
If I want my students to remember something, I'll repeat the phrase over and over in a rhythm the children will remember. Most often, they will join in with me. The next time it comes up, I'll repeat the phrase with the same rhythm, and they'll remember it. If necessary, I'll add some movement as well. It never fails!

How many of you know all the words to The Brady Bunch theme song? Probably most of you! Now how many of you worked hard to learn those words? Probably none of you! Music is magical! If you put important information to a tune, it helps the memory! (Remember Schoolhouse Rock? it works!)

Working with information over and over until it is remembered isn't a whole lot of fun, but teachers know how to make it fun! I'm a big believer in playing games!

Did you realize there are 200 basic addition and subtraction facts to be learned? You can't just give all 200 to the kiddos at once! Give a few at a time, then when those are learned, add a few more. We want them to have success, not be overwhelmed!

Rote learning, or memorization, is an important part of learning, but please remember it is only the beginning. These are the building blocks. Once the basic information is learned, children need to grow from that knowledge and develop a deeper understanding with motivation to learn more and process that information. Rote learning only covers the bottom step of Bloom's Taxonomy. It is our job to bring the children much further!

Here are a few resources to help with some of the information that needs to be memorized:

Addition and Subtraction Facts: Fact Fluency System for Addition and Subtraction: The Bundle

Addition and Subtraction facts for distance learning:

Multiplication and Division Facts: Fact Fluency System for Multiplication and Division: The Bundle

Multiplication and Division facts for distance learning:
Fact Fluency for Multiplication and Division Boom Learning: the Bundle

or you can get the whole bundle at a huge discount: