Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fact Fluency Fun!

Fact fluency can be tough for little learners, especially since they are just learning the basics of addition and subtraction. Not only are we asking them to solve equations, but we're asking them to do it with automaticity! Poor little guys!
I have spent the last few years playing around with what works and what doesn't in the world of fact fluency, and I finally got to a place where it all clicks for me. Fact fluency is NOT one-size fits all, so we shouldn't treat it like it is. We need to meet our kids where they are, and not where we want them to start. Here's how I tackle fact fluency in my classroom.
My first job is to pre-assess my kiddos. They're not all going to start on +0 facts, because some of them are beyond that. Why would I waste precious time and have them be bored?! Remember, we need to be challenging our learners by meeting them where they are!
Once I pre-assess my kids, I know which facts they've already mastered, and which facts they haven't. So, I start creating their differentiated fact rings by giving them (1) any math fact sets that they have already mastered completely {all of the facts in that group} and (2) the first set of math facts that they did not master completely. Because of this, every fact ring will look DIFFERENT, and it's important to label them with names! {It's also really cute when all of their fact rings are hanging on the wall!}
To make this easier for me, I print each set of math facts on a different color. This way I know that +0 facts are the pink ones, +1 facts are the yellow ones, and so on. I print, cut, and hole punch ALL of the facts before we start working on fact fluency so that they're all ready to go when I need them. {Yes, it takes a lot of prep, but it is SO worth it!}
Before we start guided math every other day, we take our Fact Fluency test. I print the tests on the same color paper as the flash cards so it's easy for me to know who gets what test. My kids fold the paper in half and get started on the left side while I'm passing out papers and people are choosing spots to work in (the left side is the WARM UP). Once everyone is ready, I set the timer for 1 minute, and they flip over their paper and answer as many questions as they can. (The right side is the TEST) When time is up, they put their pencil in the air, and I collect the papers. Then we split into our guided math groups.
While everyone in my group is getting settled, they take their math fact rings and review their facts or help a partner review his/hers. Each time they get a new set of facts, they write the answer on the back of each flash card in pencil so that it's easy for them to check if they're right. This is a routine that I've built into my guided math rotations, and it has paid off big time!
Of course, they're not only learning their math facts through their fact rings. It takes a lot of hands on practice and exposure to really make them stick! 
These DIY GIANT number rings are a favorite whole group, small group, and independent activity! Students have a blast exploring the combinations for each number by changing the number card and the amount of "beads" on the hula hoop! By moving the beads around, they can explore the numbers that add to the given sum!
We L-O-V-E a good app! Undersea Addition is one of our favorite FREE math apps! You need to answer addition equations to reveal a secret picture... what fun! It even gets more challenging as you complete levels which is great for your advanced kiddos!
This Math Machine was a BIG hit in kindergarten this year! We did a lot of hands on practice with putting two groups together, and it really helped the math STICK! I just love when you can see their little wheels spinning!
We also explored addition and subtraction using our WHOLE BODIES! Our giant ten frame (made just out of masking tape) was the perfect way to talk about adding and subtracting within 10.
Do you notice a pattern of GIANT things going on here?! We couldn't practice addition and subtraction facts without a GIANT number line! I love that my kiddos can get up and MOVE!
So next time you think about Fact Fluency, don't forget to think about the FUN that goes with it! I love that I'm able to make both differentiated and fun for my students, and I think that's why we have so much success!
If you're looking for even more ways to practice addition and subtraction, I've got a whole other blog post for ya! And don't forget to check out our Meaningful Math Centers for low prep, differentiated activities! You can also find all of the Fact Fluency resources here!



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Friday, July 8, 2016

DIY Giant Number Bracelet

I'm not a worksheet person. When it comes to teaching math, hands-on manipulatives are a must have for me. Especially with my little guys, do they truly understand a concept without learning through manipulatives? 
Before we use any manipulatives for the first time {or complete any activity for that matter}, I always model for my students, and do some guided practice as well. Whether I'm teaching in my small groups during guided math, or I happen to be doing something whole group, those are two things that I always do. Unfortunately, it's really tough to model or do guided practice so all of the kids can see with small manipulatives. Sure, you can use an overhead projector to show students how to use the materials, but it's often hard to see, and it's much different than using the actual thing.
One of my favorite manipulatives to use when decomposing numbers and teaching addition are number bracelets. I was introduced to these from Tara West of Little Minds At Work. When I would show my kids how to use the number bracelet to explore combinations that make a specific number, it was really tough for them to stay engaged because they were looking at such a tiny object. They always wound up "getting it," and the activity always went fine, but something was definitely missing.
This summer, my mentor from my old school was SO excited to share an idea with me, and let me tell you, it blew my mind! She shared that she was going to make a giant number bracelet to use to introduce number bracelets to her kids. Right away, I knew it was a brilliant idea and I HAD to see it! And now that I've seen it.. I knew it was too good to not share with you too :)!
Here's what you'll need:
-a hula hoop
-a pool noodle
-a serrated knife
-a tape measure
-a giant binder clip
-a marker
First, measure the pool noodle lengthwise. Make a mark every 2 inches. {Measure as many segments as you would like depending on the number you want your number bracelet to go up to. For 10 segments, I used about half of the pool noodle.}
Once all of your marks have been made, cut on each mark with a serrated knife. 
After you have cut all of your segments, cut a slit lengthwise on each segment so that you can open it.
It should look like this.
Then, open up each segment, and place it on the hula hoop. Don't stretch it too much; it should completely close around the hoop. {Again, put as many segments as you want on your hula hoop. I put 10, because I want my students to decompose numbers to 10.}
When you have all of your segments on the hula hoop, print, laminate, and cut the number cards. Hang them from the hula hoop with a giant binder clip. {I got mine at Staples.}
Now, your giant number bracelet is ready for students to use! Looking at it here, it's showing that 5 and 5 make 10.
Students can slide the segments over the top of the hula hoop to change their addends. This one shows 3 and 7 make 10.
Once they're ready to work on a different number, just change the number card, and take off as many segments as you need so that your number bracelet represents the new number! And that's it. Easy as pie! 
Want to see the number bracelet in action? Tune in today at 1:00 EST on Facebook for a Facebook Live Giant Number Bracelet demonstration! If you can't make it, no worries! You can catch the replay!
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