Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happy New Year!


After posting last time about my math fact outline I thought I would put together a whole program outline along with activities to go with it. 

One area of mathematics I am very passionate about is math facts and teaching math fact strategies. Every year that I collect math fact data for my school I cringe when I see the fact scores of past students I have had who were strong math students in first grade. So finally I created a math fact program that not only has a weekly focus, but activities to go along with it. I have already been through the first 4 weeks with my own class and have those activities developed for you to use if you wish. The activities for the first few weeks will be at the end of this posting.

I do use timing sheets in my classroom, but it is VERY important that you understand that you should not time your students on any math facts unless they already understand the strategy they are being timed on. For example, if the focus is on + 1 and -1 this week and then use the timing sheets for + 1 /- 1 facts the following week. I make sure my students can skip count both forwards and backwards as well as order the numbers before even teaching the introduction lesson. I will then reinforce these concepts when I teach the strategy lesson. Remember you teach math similar to the way you teach reading. Strategies are very important in both subject areas and students need strategies broken down and reinforced often to make the strategies a habit. You cannot teach one lesson on the CVCe vowel pattern and expect your students to remember it and the same goes for each math fact strategy.

I do not do a pre assessment on all the facts as a whole when starting these fact strategies, but I do assess each fact strategy by observation of how well they organize skip counting cards and then use the recording sheets as progress monitoring. If the majority of the class does not seem to have an understanding of the +2 and -2 facts then I will create or look for more activities for the following week on the same fact strategy. I would rather take the time and know that my students understand half the facts than plowing through just to say I “taught” all the fact strategies.

A week before you start the facts instruction I would practice skip counting both forwards and backwards. Students may not be used to counting backwards, especially by 10, 5, and 2’s. When starting the fact lessons I suggest a mini-lesson that simply involves writing 5 simple +1 number sentences on the board and have them give you the answer. Let them know that you noticed that they came up with the answer pretty quick and you did not see them count on their fingers so how did they know the answer so quickly? Point out to them that the goal is not to count on their fingers and that the goal is to solve these math facts quickly using efficient strategies. I always challenge my students to volunteer to solve those five problems as fast as they can and have everyone who volunteers do it. I vary the order I point to each problem, but every time I have my struggling students raising their hands by the time half the class has gone through the problems. It seems like a lot, but keep the pace fast and as soon as one is finished call on the next quickly. It will not take as long as you think.

Do subtraction the same day and have the discussion about how we can remember a quick way to solve both the + 1 and -1 addition facts. Send the timing the number before/after sheet home for that first week. Feel free to modify the numbers based on your student needs.

The first math fact resource is the skip counting packet Here.  This resource is very useful because it has all the skip counting cards and the recording sheets to go along with it.  You can use these cards a variety of ways based on your math fact focus.  Be sure to start small because there are a lot of cards for each skip count sequence. 
The next resource is the number before and number after activity Here.  This activity will help prepare your students for the +1 and -1 facts.
The next two resources are the minute math addition Here and the subtraction Here.  These are quick and simple timing sheets that can be done either in class as a progress monitoring with your students or as a homework lesson.  These resources were created by Ms. Gonzalez © www.solisclass.com
This is another resource that I have used both as a homework activity or a math center activity where students will time themselves skip counting a variety of different ways.
The last resource I have for you is a number ordering activity Here.  I have tried this activity one page at a time in my classroom with great success.  A quicker way to complete this activity is to have your students write the number in the box and then cross out the number. 

I am currently working on a +2 and -2 math fact packet that I will share as soon as I try the activities out myself. 

Tina Parker

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