Thursday, July 26, 2012

Building Math Fact Fluency with Speed Tracks

Yes, I think most teachers would agree with the NCTM on this one. We are overloaded with student data these days. Assessments, screeners, benchmarks...these numbers graphs and charts all give me information on how many problems my students could answer correctly. But to gain a better  understanding of where students are, to really get into their heads to find out why they got those problems right or wrong,  I need to spend close up time with my students as they work, talk, and even struggle through the math.
It's kind of like being a coach of a sports team. I watched my daughter's softball coach as she worked with her on hitting. The coach said, "Go ahead and swing, let me see what you're doing." That's what I have to do when teaching math.  I have to observe and watch them try and sometimes fail so I know where their strengths and weaknesses lie. So I know what my next move should be.
This is why I'm sold on guided math.  This framework is going to give me the opportunity to meet with smaller groups which will give me a chance to see them "swing the bat" and do the math.  

I'm looking at ways to document what I observe.  Here is the suggestion give by Barbara Blanke during the Guided Math conference I attended last spring.

I'm still thinking about this but am considering a notebook instead.  I'd love to hear what you all have tried in the past.

So I know that if I'm going to meet with small groups I must have something in place for those students not in my teacher's group.  We have no time to waste in third grade so I want my students involved in rich, independent or partner math learning  activities that provide practice of basic skills and problem solving tasks.

One activity that I know is of benefit to all my students is developing their math fact fluency with speed track sheets.   I love using these because students can use them as an independent activity or with a partner plus they can all be working on sets of facts that they need the practice with. It is so easy to individualize.
My kids make flashcards of the addition facts using ten frame cards.  They write the fact and color in the dots of the tens frame.  They write the answer on the back.  The process of practicing is easy. They just flip a card, call the answer and if they are right they place it on the race track sheet and go to the next fact. 

They time themselves to see how fast they were able to correctly call out the sums of the ten cards and get to the finish.  They document that time on the recording sheet and go for race number two.
Students are also responsible for recording any facts they missed or that slowed them down.
These are ones they will attend to by practicing in different ways.
The recording part is key.  I feel it helps to start taking ownership of their own learning and progress.

These are the times I use that I got from Really Good Stuff.  They are kid friendly and so easy to use.
I've made a variety of these fact fluency race tracks.  Some students will race around the track twice using twenty cards instead of ten.
Some students may be working on subtraction, multiplication or division facts. 
Lots of ways to individualize and differentiate for the different learners in your room.  
Here is an example of the recording sheets students mark progress on.  I like how students are competing with themselves.  With each race they are attempting to beat their own time and not their partners' time.
I'm offering this bundle of math fact fluency race tracks and supporting material on my TPT store.
Head here for your copy:

Other suggestions for building speed in recalling basic math facts?
Please share!!