Monday, July 18, 2011

Those Pesky and Important Math Facts

Addition Facts Mastery
Is there a third grade, or even second grade, teacher out there who hasn't wished that every one of your students came to you already having memorized basic addition and subtraction facts?  Having these facts mastered is vital to success in elementary math, but also for success in algebra and advanced math courses throughout the school career.  Teachers of beginning algebra classes often report that the largest barrier their students face, is their lack of fluency with basic math facts. Fluency with facts requires practice. Lots of practice, for most kids.
One of the most effective and efficient ways of assuring basic facts mastery is to have a system of daily timed
assessments that students progress through. Upon mastering one family of facts, they move on to the next.
Teaching students to use strategies, rather than just rote memorization, makes mastering the basic facts much easier and faster. I developed my system of daily timings around a set of addition strategies: zero property, add 1, add 2, addition doubles, doubles plus one, doubles plus two, add ten, and add ten subtract one.  Several of the facts can actually be solved using more than one strategy. But probably the most important strategy that students need to learn is the commutative property of addition.
My addition fact mastery system is available for free download at Teachers Pay Teachers.
There are 10 addition assessments in this packet, grouped by strategy. The first 9 assessments are 24 problems, intended to be completed in one minute. 100% accuracy must be achieved in one minute in order to move on to the next assessment. Each assessment is a half-page. I have found it easy to save paper by re-using copy paper that has had one side used. Rather than discard extra copies of assignments, etc., I save these and run my math timings on the backs of them. The final assessment, Addition Review, has 100 problems.  Students are allowed five minutes to complete it, and can pass it off with 95% accuracy.
Along with the timed assessments, I have included a record-keeping chart so you can easily track student progress, and practice pages of 100 problems each that focus on each strategy.  These are great for homework.  Enjoy these timings and practice pages.  Here's to making our math life  a bit easier!


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  2. I fully agree that memorization of math facts is so important. In my combined first and second grade, I fully believed that understanding math does not replace memorization. And yes, it is a tool to facilitate carrying out all math operations. Timed tests? Never, I thought, for these young and eager math students! Then I heard of a method and decided to try it. I ended up using this method for many years. Children loved taking timed tests. And this method could be for older children also. See my entry about The Joy of Timed Tests:

  3. I like what you're doing. Be sure to check out some elementary math interventions. I hear there are some good ones out there.