In Common Core, one of the second grade objectives is for students to be able to add and subtract fluently within 20. This is building on the strategies for addition and subtraction that students learned in first grade, and carrying it forward so that students no longer have to pause and consciously carry out that strategy, but instead have begun to memorize and know their facts automatically. Having heard from upper el teachers at my school how frustrating it is to try and teach higher level math skills (including multiplication and division) to students who are still adding and subtracting on their fingers, as well as knowing how frequently I do basic math in my head, I came into second grade knowing that I wanted to make this a priority for my kiddos. Fact fluency in addition and subtraction is an absolutely vital foundation for all their math classes to come, as well as for their daily lives.
So. Of that much I was sure, but how to get them to memorize these facts? A little time surfing the web (isn’t that how we solve all our teacher problems?) and I found a great solution! First, I came across this amazing FREEBIE (!!) on Teachers Pay Teachers. As students memorize their groups of facts, they get to earn popcorn kernels for their buckets, and when everyone’s bucket is full, you can throw your class a popcorn party! I think this is an adorable public tracker and an awesome way to build investment in fact fluency, and this freebie includes the math minute quizzes for each set of facts. However, as I continued researching, I came across this other FREEBIE (!!). This teacher got me thinking about the strategies I taught my students last year, and I decided it might be better to have my students access fact fluency through those strategies they were already familiar with, rather than through pure memorization. I was still set on using the popcorn tracker, though, so a little time in Paint, and voila! A popcorn tracker for the strategy quizzes! (I am so grateful to these teachers for posting these amazing resources as freebies. If you download them, be sure to leave them some positive feedback on their page as a thank you!)
My kids took their first quiz (the 0 facts) on Friday, and their popcorn buckets are now posted and ready to go! They look so cute!
The last piece is how to give students the chance to practice and build that fluency so they are indeed passing the quizzes. The strategy facts packet includes a homework sheet to practice for each set, but I want students to have daily practice that doesn’t require paper and pencil. That’s where flash cards come in! The teacher who posted the strategy quizzes also has a set of flash cards available for sale in her store. However, I chose to create my own because I wanted to include the flipflop facts as flashcards (for example, both 4 + 6 and 6 + 4), and also have a set of flashcards for the +1 facts. (I did not bother making a set for the +0 facts.) There are lots of websites where you can create and print flashcards for free. Then I printed each set of a different color of paper, laminated, hole punched, and hung them on book rings.
My plan is to have one math station be a flashcard station, where each student knows which number they’re working on (from their tracker) and can practice independently or with a partner to prepare for the quiz. Then on Friday everyone will have a chance to take the minute quiz for whichever set of facts they’re working on. I’ll need to teach them exactly how to practice with flash cards, but then I figure we’ll have an established routine and procedure for building fact fluency that takes very little daily input from me.
And the best part? The amazing teacher with the popcorn tracker also has a gumball set for subtraction! That’ll be our next stop, once we have those addition facts down pat!
Do you have a plan or a system for working on fact fluency? Share it with us in a comment below!