Friday, July 12, 2013

Mastering the Addition Facts: Be a Fact Blaster


Hello Friends! Yes, I am finally finding time to devote to a post. Wow, time just flew by!  I appreciate the emails from my concerned friends who thought I drifted off to sea! I have been on beach mode since my trip a week ago and honestly had trouble getting back into the swing of things.

I missed a couple of weeks of Sunday's Words but these are the ones on my mind lately. The ocean has a way of sweeping away my burdens.
Hope you all are lightening your loads and giving yourself some rest.

        We are finishing up our final weeks of the Marzano's Reflective Teacher book study.   We are working on applying some of the effective teaching strategies as we consider ways to improve our instruction next year.  One area that I am working on is figuring out a way to help my third graders master the addition facts. Students still come to third grade counting on fingers which slows them down in a major way.  I really don't have the instructional time to devote to long practice sessions yet we all know the importance of knowing these foundational facts. is my new attempt at a plan.  We worked on creating materials with Marzano's Design Questions in Mind. 

Question: What will I do to deepen student's understanding of knowledge?

 First and foremost we wanted our approach to be more about math thinking than math memorization. We will focus on strategies like having students learn the doubles and then teaching them doubles plus one facts.  We will teach students the easy tens and then relate those to the nifty nines. After each strategy is introduced we will hand students the flash cards that correspond to it.  Students will write the sums on the back. Following the strategy facts all that is left would be 5 trickster cards.  We will work on the idea of the comutative property and the identity property throughout our lessons.
Question: What will I do to engage students ?
That's an easy, games and more games.  We picked six EASY to play card games and created playing cards so each student can have a pack to take home to play with parents or family members.  This will give them fun practice in applying the strategies.  I discourage finger counting during these game sessions. I spend time walking, talking and coaching while students play these games.  I want to hear and see the math thinking.  I have even taken anecdotal records as a way to assess student progress and to determine if more teaching or just more practice is needed.

Question: What will I do to help students effectively interact with new knowledge?
After students have worked on understanding the strategies we will work on our speed with these facts. Here is another interaction activity but this time we stepped it up a bit and students race the clock to see how quickly they can recall the sums.  This has them  racing the clock multiple times to improve their score. I like that this is an individualized competition and they are not racing against another person. Timed practice sessions help students become more comfortable with the weekly timed quizzes and we all know that a relaxed brain performs at a higher level than a stressed out one!
Question: What will I do to establish and communicate learning goals, track student progress and celebrate success?
In our county we are required to give timed addition quizzes.  The third grade goal is thirty facts in one minute.  After each quiz students will plot their number correct on a fact blaster graph and fill out a progress report that will go home for parent review. When we first start this program we ask for parent help and involvement. Part of our homework is to work on these facts either by using the flashcards, card games or the list of online games we give out.  The focus here is on PROGRESS so as long as their graph is going UP we have something to celebrate.  Students will be given a star to place on their sticker chart and a starburst candy to enjoy.  If no progress is made then additional practice sessions at home and at school will be necessary.  

I am adding this set to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store so you can head there if you are interested in trying this out.

Now I'd love to hear from my readers!  Please share your ideas on helping students master these very important foundational facts!