Fact Fluency Routines

This will be my 3rd and final {for now} post on what math looks like in my classroom...because over 6 years ago now I stopped teaching math with worksheets, workbooks, teacher manuals and "activities."  And it sure doesn't look like math did when I was in school!  Here are the other posts if you want to catch up!

Fact Fluency was my newest area of growth in math this year.  Here's a look at my Fact Fluency routines in my first grade classroom.

What is Fact Fluency?  

Fact Fluency is basically another name for practicing math facts. BUT {and a BIG but here...} it is more than that.  It's about helping kids communicate how they fluently got their answer.  We know from recent research that the more a kid can explain his or her thinking in math, the better they perform on state and standardized tests...but more importantly the better their math understanding is and the more successful they are in math.  So the more opportunities we can give kids to talk about, write about, and communicate their thinking in math, the better it is for kids.  Fact Fluency offers kids a chance to practice their facts and explain how they know the facts they know fluently.

How Do You Set Up For Fact Fluency? 

First I made several copies of the fact fluency cards.  The packet has sets of facts for Kinder, 1st and 2nd grades based on the fluency Common Core standards.  Each set is labeled at the bottom of each page!

Even though I teach first grade, I copied a few Kinder sets for my low babies and several 2nd grade sets for my high mathematicians!  I copied about 8-10 on grade level sets and the 2-3 of the above and below.  I color coded them by grade level.  This made it easy for me to tell partners what "color" they would be working on.  Then I put them in some buckets to store.  I stored the addition all together and the subtraction all together.

TEACHER TIP: After doing this for a few years, I now have these cards on rings.  It just makes life easier...and clean up faster too!

I also partnered up my kids.  If you are doing Counting Collections like I blogged about last week, then you already know how I partnered them for that.  I use the same partners for FF because I think it's easier on the kids to remember {and me!}.


What Does Day 1 Look Like?  

When I introduce Fact Fluency, we do it together first.  The first thing we do is make our I Can Chart.  This is one area I need to do better in...because I got a late start this year, I never actually charted out our I Can list for fact fluency like I did in Counting Collections.  But here is our list!

I Can...
*fluently add and subtract to 10 and higher in 4 seconds or less{change for your grade}
*explain my thinking to my partner and on my paper
*time my partner
*cooperate with my partner

Then, I have a volunteer come up to the front while the rest of the class is at the carpet.  We just model how to play Fact Fluency with a partner.  I will show them a card and time them and they will answer as fast as they can.  Then I model the next question the partner should ask...which is VERY VERY important: How did you get that? and then the volunteer must be able to tell us how they got their answer.  "I just knew it" is not an okay answer, unless they got it in less than a second!  They might say, "I counted on my fingers," or "I counted up/back from 5," or "I know 5+5 is 10 so 5+6 is 11."  Any explanation is accepted if it makes sense! :)  We practice this several times together.  It might even be necessary to practice together for 2-3 lessons, depending on your group!


What Does the Regular Fact Fluency Routine Look Like?  


The first 10 minutes, we do a Math Talk with either addition or subtraction, depending on what we are working on that day.  I choose equations that are ones they should know fluently.  This gives them exposure to on grade level equations and strategies.

Then we review our I Can's for fact fluency.  After we review that chart, they are ready to go work with partners.  We either do addition facts or subtraction facts.  Not both.  And it just depends on our goal for the day or week.  Addition is easier so we stay with that for the first few weeks for sure!

One partner is the timer and teacher and the other partner is the student.  Based on research, if a first grader can answer a fact in 4 seconds or less it is considered a "fluent fact."  The teacher partner will beep very quietly at 4 seconds so the student partner knows he/she is over time.  They will still continue to figure out the answer.    You can see this cutie timing with his fingers while holding the car for his "student."

When the student partner answers, the teacher asks, "How did you get that? And the partner must be able to explain it to them and then record their thinking on their paper.  The teacher partner's job is to make sure the student explains it clearly and records it in a clear way on their paper.  Then, they switch jobs.  They continue this until partner work is over.

Notice on these samples that they record their fact in the small rectangle and their thinking below that.  This was from one of our subtraction days.


It really is so cool to see the variety of thinking going on in these smarties!  One thing I'd like to change for next year is to have kids highlight or star facts that were fluent (answered in under 4 seconds).  This would be a great self-assessment for my kids and a good visual for me too!

While students are working in their spots, I walk around and observe and conference with partners.  I'm listening in to see how they explain their thinking and if they are doing what they should be doing in their spot and not just answering facts by explaining and showing their thinking {higher order thinking skills anyone??}

Also, most weeks, I pull a small group back with me that need to work on something specific in fact fluency {whether it's my lowest babies or my high kids...they ALL need our attention!}

At the end of partner work (about 15-20 minutes) we have share time.  Our share time is set up just like math mysteries and counting collections.  I choose 2-3 papers to put on the ELMO and we have the students share how they got their answers on specific facts.   This gives kids an additional time to communicate their thinking and to do it in a whole group setting.  It also gives the audience a chance to critique others and give positive feedback and suggestions, which is one of the Standards for Math Practice.  I use that time to point out things we've been working on all week, our goal for the day or week, and to model how to notate their thinking.

Where Can I Find the Fact Fluency Materials? 

The addition and subtraction flash cards for K-2 and the recording sheet can be found in this packet!

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