Resources and Tools for Elementary Math Specialists and Teachers

Time to Practice Fact Fluency

This discussion is part of a collection:Achieving Fact Fluency

I believe all educators will agree that it is necessary to practice facts in order to gain fluency with them. How do you work fact fluency practice into your daily and/or weekly instruction and practice?


Has anyone found any apps for the iPad that work well for providing practice? Ones that provide children with an engaging format and good feedback?

I love Reflex Math. You can get a free trial and apply for a grant to extend that trial for a full calendar year for up to 35 students. I've never seen my students more engaged in practicing fact fluency. It does have a free app for iPad. Check it out. Pricing is available on the website. I haven't been able to convince anyone to make the investment for our entire school but won't quit trying.

Path, I have found some apps that provide practice for basic facts, but they are the equivalent of using flashcards. There are some that offer more depth, but they are pay for apps and can get pricey depending on how you intend to use them. There is a Math vs Zombies which I think is fun and good practice, but brings a little too much violence into math practice and I know many people are sensitive about that. I would be interested in knowing what other people find useful in their classroom.

After students have had instruction on strategies that help them with facts, we talk about how it's important to continually study them so that they know them quickly. We brainstorm a list of ways to study and practice facts: flash cards, games, websites, singing songs, etc. Each student sets a goal for himself for how he will perform on the next "check-up," a quick quiz of facts everyone should know by that point in the school year Each student also makes a plan for how they are going to do it. I provide each student with resources he needs based on his plan and make sure parents understand that their children need to use those resources at home on a regular basis. After each "check-up," students determine if they are meeting their goal, evaluate if their plan for studying facts is working, revise their plan as needed and set a goal for next time. Most students really buy into this because they get to choose how they will study, and they feel good about the improvement they are making.

Parents can help here because curriculum load competes for time. Parents can spend 5 minutes drilling a group of 4-5 facts, if the instructor makes sure they have the correct facts and materials. One of my student's parents taped fact equations to the mirrors in the bathroom and the student's bedroom. The trick had brilliant results.

I think consistency is essential. So, whatever activity that is used, I think the consistency of offering ongoing practice is critical. So, once the strategy is taught, say using the doubles strategy, then a doubles game maybe played using number die with a partner. They take turns, each student rolls a number die, doubles their number and gives their answer out loud. This can be done when students arrive, before lunch, or at the end of the day as students wait for their bus. These types of activities can be effective in just 5-10 mins of play. I think ongoing and purposeful instructional activities (games included) are important. Then use of a chart helps along with a motivational reward system as students demonstrate their abilities to do the mental computation.