Sep 20, 2014

The Endless Math Facts Battle

You know how in teaching you have to pick your battles?  Well this past summer, math facts became one of the battles I picked.  Aaannd, this is why...  Ever had this conversation?
"I practiced math facts with my kids all. year. long.  We worked hard and they knew them by the end of the year.  I don't know why they don't know it for you."
Year after year I felt like I keep drilling the math facts.  Playing the games.  Using technology to practice.  Getting parent volunteers to do flashcards.  Sending home math facts activities.  And still it seemed like a relentless pursuit of learning that doesn't even last.
But then I came across this article from "Teaching Children Mathematics", published by NCTM in the April 2014 issue.

Oh. my. gosh.  I love it!  It made me see the ridiculousness in what I was doing.  In no other area of teaching do I give the kids a timed test, then pull out flashcards and rote memorization tools, and then give them another timed test on the same concept a week or two later.  No wonder that wasn't working.  Because we know that what works in teaching is developing the concept, building strategies and understanding, reteaching and explaining in different ways.  Most of the time, I teach other math concepts in a concrete-pictorial-abstract model, giving support along the way.  I decided to do the same with math facts and after doing some math education research, I created this Math Fact: Beyond Memorization unit.  Of course, this is only a small sample, but you can get all 90 pages of it at my tPt store.

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