I know you have the student (or maybe you have many of them) that I am about to describe.
- They count on their fingers as their only strategy to recall their math facts.
- No matter how many ways they try to learn math facts, they come very slowly.
- They are at least a grade level behind in math fact fluency.
- They feel helpless, like they will never learn their facts.
There is this strange attitude with these types of students, as if they think they will never learn their facts. Their parents or siblings will say “I never really was very good at memorization, or learning my facts.” Those comments validate the student’s struggles and they feel like they, too, will never learn their facts.
They CAN and they WILL learn their facts. They just need some good tools.
First and foremost we must teach strategies. There are many ways that students can interact with their facts. They can use ten frames, number lines, fact families, pattern work etc. Time tests alone do not teach students their math facts, and we cannot rely solely on flashcards/memorization. We must first saturate their minds with a variety of ways to work with and look at their math facts. That is when memorization works, after they’ve seen the fact so many different ways they are sick of looking at it. This works for the majority of students as they learn their math facts.
But for some students with learning difficulties, it STILL won’t work. THEN, we must boost children up by giving them intentional memorization strategies. The strategy I am referring to is called incremental rehearsal.
It is adapted from a strategy that I learned over at Intervention Central. Their strategy is amazing as well, but I found it was overwhelming for my struggling students to have so many facts involved (Instead of 10 but I’ve narrowed it down to 5 at a time).
There are a variety of ways I’ve used this strategy:
- Parent volunteers come in to work 1 to 1 with my most needy students.
- I’ve had peer tutors from upper grade levels come in to work with students in a math fact recess club. (Bring candy or treats, they’ll feel amazing to be a part of the “club”!)
- I’ve worked with small groups in intervention block with specific facts.
- If all else fails, I’ve sent home the facts to work on in baggies with the instruction page (see below).
Some students truly are going to take longer to learn the facts…but they WILL learn them. Especially if we never give up on them.