Fluency

"Trying to do mathematics without knowing basic number facts is like trying to play the piano without knowing where the notes are."

- John Mighton - The End of Ignorance

Fluency Tools

Sprints

Counting

Pattern Sheets

Deco Trees

Rekenrek

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Fluency without Equivocation

This article by Dr. Scott Baldridge, Ben McCarty, and Robin Ramos explains the difference between building fluency and rote memorization drills.

Watch FACT Charter School's Melanie Gutierrez deliver fluency in her kindergarten class (0:00 - 7:30).

“Practice at retrieving new knowledge or skill from memory is a potent tool for learning and durable retention.  This is true for anything the brain is asked to remember and call up again in the future – facts, complex concepts, problem solving techniques, motor skills.  Effortful retrieval makes for stronger learning and retention.  We’re easily seduced into believing that learning is better when it’s easier, but research shows the opposite:  when the mind has to work, learning sticks better.  The greater the effort to retrieve learning, provided that you succeed, the more that learning is strengthened by retrieval.”

- Peter Brown - Make it Stick

As a sixth grade teacher, I devoted at least 25% of every lesson to improving my students’ number sense through Sprints, skip counting, and sequenced call-response drills.

Developing student fluency is a major component of a successful elementary school Math program.

While there is no hard fast rule, I recommend that teachers devote the following percentages of class time to fluency:

  • Kindergarten:  35-40%

  • First Grade:  30-35%

  • Second grade:  30-35%

  • Third grade:  25-30%

  • Fourth grade:  25-30%

  • Fifth grade:  25-30%

 

 

Watch Bill Davidson deliver a Sprint (0:00 - 10:50) and skip counting (10:50 - 13:10) to sixth graders at FACT Charter School.