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Smashing Strategies for Guided Math: Fact Fluency

And we’re back… this is the 2nd post in the Smashing Strategies for Guided Math Series in which a group of leading teacher authors have teamed up to bring you creative and practical ideas for your classroom.

We talk a lot about flexibly grouping students in the classroom to keep switching things up, but in reality… is that really feasible? It’s a lot of work but I am here to propose a new idea to you today. Flexible grouping with your math groups, to practice fact fluency. In my classroom, I have developed a system that works smoothly and allows for a break in the normal grouping system every week. Let’s take a look…

Fact fluency is an absolute must at the primary level. Though I completely believe in students learning to use strategies and thinking about numbers flexibly is crucial, there must be some basic memorization in order for students to have a solid foundation. So the solution I came up with for this was creating fact fluency groups based off a quick assessment completed on Fridays.

The assessments are simple, the students are given 20 questions and have to complete them in 2 minutes. They must solve a MINIMUM of 18/20 correctly to move on to the next level (click on the image above to download your free copy).  

Here is our chart for the first three months of the school year… If you click on the image, you can use the editable template available for download from my teachers pay teachers page.
Using the data (students names have been changed for privacy) I split my kids into 5 different groups.

Group 1         Group 2          Group 3        Group 4        Group 5
Dallin            Aidan K          Peyton          Daniel           Hope
Kylee             Laila               Michael        Katie             Cam
Molly            Aidan T.          Joanna          Vanessa         Elijah
Thomas         Savannah                             Kieran
Quinn                                                         Ittai

Once the students were split, I could focus on their needs most directly. I focused on helping students with pneumonic devices, fact fluency songs, tips and tricks for memorizing different facts based off their individual needs.

For example if I was teaching skip counting by 3’s to my advanced group, I would teach them to sing the following numbers to Row, Row, Row Your Boat “3, 6, 9 and 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, last is 36.”

It was quite interesting, that our fact fluency groups did not align very closely with our guided math groups. The ability to memorize is very different than the ability to use strategies or think about mathematical concepts – yet another reason I am a fan of this model, mixing things up is always a good thing!! 😉

While I pulled groups, children would work at centers around the classroom. There were many different games that we play to reinforce fact fluency.

1. Computer Station – The students play math fact fluency games on the following websites (I set them up ahead of time on the computer, so all they have to do is sit down and play. The websites are also bookmarked on the computer and I have taught the students how to go back and find a bookmarked website if they accidentally click off the main page).


2. Go Fish – I leave a sign with a number to create and the kids play Go Fish trying to add up to the number they have been given. For example if the NUMBER TO MAKE was 7 an exchange might look like this:

Number to Make is 7
Molly: Do you have a 3?
Kieran: No, go fish.
(Molly picks up new card)
Kieran: Do you have a 5?
Molly: Yes, here you go.
(Molly hands a 5 card to Kieran)
Kieran: I had a 2 and now I got a 5 and I know 2 + 5 = 7.
(Kieran lays down 2 and 5 card next to each other and would then record 2 + 5 = 7 on his individual white board)

3. Roll and Record – Students are given dice and a recording sheet. They roll two dice and add the two numbers together and record on an individual whiteboard or  recording sheet. After ten rolls each, students add the total number up and whoever has the greatest sum wins.

4. Hopscotch – Tape out a hopscotch board on the floor, students roll the dice and hop as many spaces as the number that has been rolled. They roll the dice again and jump that many more spaces. The partner records the addition equations on an individual whiteboard.

5. Shooting Marbles – If you have students that are working on their subtractions facts, tape a large circle on the floor and a line of tape two feet away. Then have the students place marbles in the center of the tape and record the number on an individual white board. Then have students sit behind the line and roll a single marble toward the circle. Have students count the number of marbles that were knocked out of the circle, then have them create a subtraction equation. 

Student places twenty marbles in circle. Student sits on the line and shoots one marble at the circle. Six marbles roll outside the circle. Student writes the following equation on the individual white board: 20-6=14.  

Be sure to check out other Smashing Strategies for Guided Math from these other bloggers!!!

An InLinkz Link-up

There are hundreds of other great games for teaching fact fluency… what are some that you use in your classroom? Let us know in the comment section below!

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