Towards the end of the year, I always had that feeling that time was “running out” and there were always a few topics I wanted to have in place for my students before sending them onto the next grade level. Fact Fluency practice was always at the top of the list!
But, before you panic and whip out the flashcards, follow these 3 steps to get started with fact fluency practice in a way that will stick with your students!
Fact Fluency Practice: Step 1
Take stock of your students’ current addition and subtraction strategies.
- Are your students still using count all strategies to find the total? You will know your students are still at the count all stage if they are using their fingers to show both parts and counting all to find the total or if they are showing the minuend (whole) on their fingers and explicitly taking away the subtrahend to find the difference.
- Are your students still using counting strategies? Counting strategies are a bit more strategic and demonstrate a higher level of understanding than count all strategies. If your students are using counting strategies such as counting on or counting up that embed one addend rather than counting all they are in this “level 2” zone.
- Are your students using related fact strategies? Related fact strategies that involve manipulating the addends by decomposing in order to create an easier problem to solve fall into this category. For example, a students who uses a known doubles fact by thinking of 2 + 3 as “2 + 2 and 1 more” to find a total of 5.
Before jumping straight to memorization strategies, notice where your students fall along this fact solving continuum. Provide activities and materials that gently stretch your students from where they are to the next step.
These addition and subtraction strategies are covered in greater depth in my (free) addition and subtraction fact fluency guide!
Fact Fluency Practice: Step 2
Notice the TYPE of facts your students know and the types they need more practice with. Memorizing 100 individual addition and 100 individual subtraction facts is an overwhelming task. By instructing facts based on relationships, your students will draw connections and become more readily able to solve and ultimately move to memory on these facts. Relationships include:
- Zero Facts
- One More/One Less
- Two More/Two Less
- Doubles Plus/Minus One
- Partners of Ten
- Partners of Ten Plus/Minus One
- Make a Ten Facts
The best part? If your students study fact relationships they set themselves up for success with future facts as well! A students who knows 3 + 7 = 10 will quickly make the connection to 30 + 70 as partners that make 100!
Fact Fluency Practice: Step 3
Practice, practice, practice. Your students need repeated exposure to facts in order to become fluent. There is no shortcut to practice!
While you can target the strategies and facts your students are using your students are the ones who need to practice these strategies and facts over and over so that they become fluent.
Partner games are a fun and easy way to get in a whole lot of practice while keeping your students engaged. This set of 40 addition and subtraction fact fluency games can be print and played with very few additional materials!