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3 Tips to Build Math Fact Fluency

math fact fluency

First, let's talk about WHY we need to help our students become fluent in basic math facts.  
"Math facts fluency leads to higher order mathematics.  Through automaticity students free up their working memory and can devoted it to problems solving and learning new concepts and skills (Geary, 1994).

Quite simply, a lack of fluency in basic math facts will significantly hinder a child's subsequent progress in problem-solving, algebra, and higher order math concepts.  Math fact fluency not only affects our students' future success in math, but also in science and geography.
For these, and probably a zillion more, the Common Core Standards 
require us to teach Math Fact Fluency:
addition and subtraction facts

math fact fluency

addition and subtraction facts

addition and subtraction facts
So we know the WHY - let's talk about the HOW!  
Here are 3 Tips to make math fact fluency teaching and practice more effective.
addition and subtraction facts
Addition and Subtraction Facts
I had a huge 'aha' moment years ago, when I had moved from teaching Kinders for years to 2nd grade. The students were taking a timed math facts test so I could assess their level of mastery, and I thought I should know how long it would take me to complete the page of math facts.  So I took it.  I was amazed at how I was thinking as I was answering - I did not have many of the facts memorized, but I was using the mental math strategies to derive the answers!  WOW!  I was super fast, did not have them memorized, but I understood the relationships so I knew the answer almost 'automatically'!  

And of course, research bears this out - students who are taught mental math strategies are quicker in computing than students who are taught to 'memorize it'. 
Addition and Subtraction Facts
"To build math fact fluency, the most effective strategy is to give students 10-15 minutes per day to practice using what are called derived facts strategies (DFS).  Essentially, DSF's are using facts you know to solve facts you don't know."  Sam Strother, Associate Director Developing Mathematical Thinking Institute.

I love that term- Derived Facts Strategies because it describes the process - we derive from what we know to a new fact.  We, as teachers MUST make time in our already packed day to provide this 10-15 minutes practice per day.  Gone are the days when we can tell the parents to teach it at home.  Most parents don't have the time, or the mathematical understanding to teach using Mental Math Strategies - or DSF.
Addition and Subtraction Facts

We know from experience and research that students learn best when they feel safe and are engaged in a fun activity - enter math games, student goal setting, and cooperative learning activities!

 I have developed activities that are:
   1) based on the Mental Math Strategies
   2) can be done in 10-15 minutes per day
   3) are super engaging!

And....... NO PAPERS TO GRADE ..... ANY DAY!  Can I hear a 'Hip, Hip, Hooray!' ?

I used these super cute and engaging Super Hero graphics in all these Addition and Subtraction Fluency Resources.  I tell the kids that mental math strategies are their super powers in math!

Math Fact Fluency
Addition and Subtraction Facts
Addition and Subtraction Facts
I included a small strategy poster for each game,
and put the directions on the other side.
Addition and Subtraction Facts

Addition and Subtraction Facts
Primary Math Fact Automaticacy

Addition and Subtraction Facts
Addition and Subtraction Facts

I have been using these engaging activities in my classroom for years and I know from experience that my students got 'Fast as a Flash' with addition and subtraction math facts.
I hope I have inspired you with my 3 tips!
  1. Teach the Mental Math Strategies
  2. Practice 10-15 15 minutes each day
  3. Use Engaging Activities

I have a few free games for you that will help you implement all 3 tips:  these games use the mental math strategies, are a great way to practice, and are super engaging!

Addition and Subtraction Facts


Make Lessons Interactive with Partners Quiz

Are you looking for a way to make your lessons more interactive & effective?
Partners Quiz (PQ) is a great way to add an interactive component to almost any lesson!

Here are just a few reasons why you will love adding Partners Quiz (PQ) to your day!
  1. It is fun!  The kids cheer when they hear we are going to do Partners Quiz!
  2. Engaging!  Every student is up and interacting with the content!
  3. Brain Break!  The kiddos are up and moving as they are learning!
  4. Flexible!  You can use this activity with almost any academic content!
  5. Quick!  It does not take a lot of time - can easily be used as independent practice in almost any lesson!
  6. No Papers Grade!  Woot! Woot!
Students stand (holding their PQ card).
Students put one hand up to find a partner - closest student with hand up.  It's good to emphasize this because some will only want to play with their buddies.

Partners greet.
Partner A quizzes/coaches partner B.  
Partner B Answers
(If B does not know the answer, Partner A quickly shows the correct answer (coaches), and then quizzes again).
Partner A praises B with high 5 or compliment.

Same as Step 2 with roles reversed.
Partner B quizzes/coaches partner A.  
Partner A Answers
(If A does not know the answer, Partner B quickly shows the correct answer (coaches), and then quizzes again)
Partner B praises A with high 5 or compliment.

Partners thank each other, say good-by.
They put their hands up to find a new partner and repeat steps.

I set the timer for 5-10 minutes for the students to do this engaging activity.  I challenge them to PQ with as many different partners as they can.

I carry a card and participate in the activity for a number of reasons:
Kids love to quiz the teacher.
I can discreetly help struggling students.
I can quickly see if the class needs a "refresher" on PQ procedures.

If you would like to make your own Partner Quiz cards, 
click on picture below to get a Freebie PQ Editable Template.
How have you used Partner Quiz in your classroom?
If you have not yet used it, I hope I have inspired you to give it a try!
How have you used Partner Quiz in your classroom? If you have not yet used it, grab this free download and give it a try!