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Everyone talks about fact fluency all the time. Today we’re talking about why fact fluency matters. It’s simple. Without it, more advanced math is going to be much more complicated than it needs to be, so how do we improve fact fluency in students with special needs?
Imagine that someone puts down a three-digit multiplication problem in front of you. Shouldn’t be too bad, right? But now imagine you don’t know your times’ tables off the top of your head.
That simple problem is now going to take a million times longer.
You’re going to have to labor over each step, and because in this story, you’re also ten, you’ll get distracted and frustrated and give up because it’s too hard.
Why does that happen, and what can we, as teachers, do to fix it?
The answer is simple, and we’re going to go over it today, Fact Fluency!
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Why Fact Fluency Matters
Fact Fluency is the ability to know addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems off the top of your head without having to calculate them.
But it’s not just about memorization. It’s about having done them enough times that you understand the theory behind it like the back of your hand and can call on it without needing to think about it.
When you have good fact fluency, it allows you to:
- Solve more advanced problems
- Increase number sense
- Focus on advanced mathematical concepts
- Decrease frustration level in math
Math isn’t accessible unless you have good fact fluency.
Students can’t learn advanced concepts like algebra or have access to the general education curriculum until they have good fact fluency.
Struggling with multiplication will make all of that too hard for them.
So if you’re a special education teacher looking to get kiddos back in the general education room, fact fluency will be an essential skill to build.
How to Improve Fact Fluency
Like I said before, fact fluency isn’t about just memorizing. In fact, if kids just memorize but don’t understand the concept, then they won’t get the benefits of increased number fluency and being prepared to learn more advanced mathematical concepts.
So, before you start just doing drills, you have to make sure your students understand the thesis behind multiplication, addition, subtraction, or whatever kind of facts you’re targeting.
After that, you can go on ahead and start working on drills and memorization because that will play a role.
Though I can’t stress it enough, drills and memorization come after the concept is understood.
What if I want to avoid Flashcards?
Flashcards are not the only option if you’re looking to improve fact fluency.
They play an important role, but kids get bored of them fast. Some students are probably going to need more variety.
There are ways to make it more like a game.
Try Crossword Puzzles
I’m a sucker for crossword puzzles.
I have a whole blog post on how much I love them! Click here to read that.
So that is why I made a whole set of crossword puzzles available to purchase!
As a resource room teacher, I’m always working with kids who are at different levels and mastering different skills.
That’s why I keep all of them on hand so that each of my kids at each grade level will have something to work on.
Answer personal favorite of mine is Bingo.
The kids love it, and it can be a great way to pass a Friday afternoon that just never seems to end.
We get a little competitive, and the person who wins the first round gets to sit in the teacher’s chair and call out the slips!
We alternate between addition and subtraction, depending on who is in the room.
Fact fluency is something I see a lot in IEPs because it plays such an important role in how children will learn math.
The kids I know who are still getting general education curricula without knowing their facts really struggle and tend to hate math the most, which is a shame.
Math offers our kids so much, and we want to make sure they have all the opportunities they can get!
I would love to hear how you’re working on Fact Fluency. Send me a message on Instagram.