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Include Daily Math Facts Practice

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Mathematics Elementary School Strategy

Skills

Working Memory Attention Verbal Memory Abstract Reasoning Processing Speed Visual Memory

Include Daily Math Facts Practice

When you have mastered numbers, you will in fact no longer be reading numbers, any more than you when you read words when reading books. You will be reading meanings.
— W. E. B. du Bois

Teach It!

  1. Objective: Students will know their math facts well enough that they don't need to think about them--like recognizing "the" or "with" when reading--so they have the mental energy for more complex tasks.
  2. Daily Practice: Repeated daily practice is key. To keep students engaged, mix up the type of practice with digital and non-digital options. Most important is to set aside time every day, whether in the classroom or assigning it at home, that the student spends 5-10 minutes practicing.
  3. Non-Digital Options: Varying up non-digital options, such as math minute worksheets, flashcards, or interactive math fact games, will keep the daily practice fresh and motivating.
  4. Digital Options: There is no "one size fits all" math app. Consider picking several motivating apps to mix it up. a) Many apps have timers and will give negative feedback for wrong answers. Consider if this will discourage your student. b) Choose an app that gives a summary on incorrect answers so students know what to work on. Similarly, the app ideally will provide an adult summary by fact so you can follow up with flashcards or worksheets. e) Students need to pull facts from memory, not just recognize an answer. As your student grows more confident, select apps that require typing in the answer rather than multiple choice. f) Click for a broad variety of math practice options.
  5. Teacher Notes: a) A commonly accepted measure of automaticity is 60 correct facts per minutes, or 1 fact per second. However, given younger children might not have the motor skills to write that quickly, 40 correct facts per minute might be a more reasonable goal. Learn more about how to differentiate math practice and goals b) Emphasis should not be on speed for the sake of being fast. Rather it is to assure the student knows his facts so well that he doesn't need to calculate or think about the answer. c) Motivate students by helping them understand why. Just as knowing sight words makes reading easier, mastering math facts enables you to more easily solve word problems, algebraic equations, or other higher level math concepts.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

In teaching elementary mathematics, some schools have shifted from focusing on rote memorization of single-digit arithmetic to emphasizing deeper conceptual understanding of the underlying processes. However, research shows that students still need to have fluency with their basic number facts if they are to be successful with higher level mathematics. Fluency and automaticity are particularly important for students with weaker abstract reasoning and working memory skills.

Best-suited for students with weaker: Inhibition, Long-term Memory, Short-Term Memory, Visual Processing, Processing Speed (Source: Digital Promise Learner Variability Project)