Sunday, August 12, 2012

Math: Interventions and Fact Fluency!

I added an exclamation because I am SO excited! As I wrote last, I was at a conference for RtI in mathematics. The conference made me want to run around and throw brightly colored confetti in the shape of numbers into the air. It gave use lucky math committee teachers a ton to think about!

Here were the big ideas:
Give supplemental instruction that focuses on whole numbers for grades k-5, and rational numbers for 4-8. Using strategies that compose and decompose numbers is HUGE. Have the student break down numbers and build them back up.
example: 10 = 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 1 + 1
This helps them build understanding for why algorithms work. Really, giving kids this skill is one of the biggest things you can do the build their foundations. Fact fluency is not only a result of this, it also helps in turn.

Get kids talking about math! A quickie 5 minute mental math session in the morning is a great opportunity to get kids talking about math. An example would be asking 4th graders to solve 16 x 35 in their heads, and then explain with the class how they got their answer. I was amazed at how quickly they can verbalize their strategies!

Build in opportunities to review skills. Don't just wait until the day before the test to review. Give the kids little problems or activities through the unit so that they keep the skills fresh and sharp. You know what they say: use it or lose it!

Focus on the structure of problems. Don't just tell the kids to look for the "clue words" like less or more. Young mathematicians need to be able to distinguish what type of problem they have in front of them. You can't do that by only looking for certain words. It's an easy way to be led astray.

Kids need to "see" the math. Use manipulatives! Draw pictures! Break down numbers on the board, and then build them back up. Show them WHY.

Struggling mathematicians should have 10 minutes of fact fluency every day. We often think that our older strugglers have fluency with their facts, but most of the time they do not. Devote a little bit of time every day to play a game that reinforces those facts. It doesn't have to be drill-and-kill, but those facts are important!

Always write problems out horizontally instead of vertically for struggling mathematicians. This will focus on the value of the numbers vs. the algorithm.

Because I was SO JAZZED about this conference and came away with so much food for thought where interventions in math are concerned, I created a whole set of flip and slide cards for learning number relations and practicing fact fluency for numbers 1-9. Remember what I said about fact fluency? Here you go!

Check it out at my TN store or TPT store!

These are all printable cards (and I included black and white printables so you don't have to print in color if you don't want to). Let me tell you, this is a complete set including all the addition facts for numbers 1-9.

The flip cards look like this:

The full lines are folded and the dotted line is cut. You can pull down one side or the other, leaving one addend revealed (one part) along with the sum (the whole). The sum can also be folded back and the Flip Card can be used to practice addition facts.

The Flip Cards include color coded sets for:
making 10
and adding numbers 1-9.

The slide cards look like this:
They can be printed double sided so that there are numbers on one side and dots on the other. A folded and glued loop of paper (included, with instructions!) is slid over the problem so that you can hide whatever part of the problem you want. This is great practice in algebraic thinking, breaking down numbers and thinking about how to build numbers. 

Just like the Flip Cards, the Slide Cards include color coded sets for:
making 10
and adding numbers 1-9.

Also included is a tracking progress packet, especially useful for gathering data if you feel a student isn't making gains. Having math fact data on fluency for numbers 1-9 will show how the student is doing with alignment to the CCSS in the areas of numbers and operations for first and second grade. It can also help track if an older student is missing some critical fluency in the early numbers. 

Ready for the big news?
I will be GIVING AWAY three Math Fact Fluency Kits to three lucky teachers on Monday the 13th. Just go to my Teacher's Notebook store and get entered to win! 


  1. Hi Heather,

    I went to your TN store and I can't find the giveaway for your Math Fact Fluency Kits. Am I missing it somewhere? It looks AMAZING!!!

    A is for Apple B is for Blog

  2. Crazy, I couldn't get to it directly either. I had to follow the trail of give-aways. Here is the link!