(I wanted to title this post Ugh! %#$*% Math Facts, but somehow that didn’t seem very appropriate!) Sometimes I feel as though I am banging my head against the wall in an effort to help students learn math facts. There are many ways to practice in our room with a weekly set of facts (differentiated to their needs): building them, arrays, number lines, fact families, strategy work, drill, flashcards…

But we’ve hit a point in the school year where the students are less than happy to practice. Whenever I mention math fact practice, I hear groans and moans about it. IT IS DRIVING ME CRAZY. I started to look at their behaviors, noticing that when it was time to practice math facts, their efforts were half hearted as if they were on auto-pilot. I was having to track down who was practicing and who wasn’t.

On April 4th, I noticed only 7 people out of 25 students got 100% (10 out of 10) on their weekly math fact quick check. I was completely at a loss because this number had been falling every week. My students know that I hold very high expectations, which means that somehow we were failing each other.

So I really started pushing them to practice at school, even twice a day at times for the next week. I rewarded and recognized students who had completed their wok, and took photos of really cool strategies to put up on the interactive white board.

One week later right before we were about to start our quick check, I wrote this on the board:

I explained that only seven people had gotten 100% last week. I told the class that today I would keep track of the number of students who received 100%, and the difference between the two would be the number of extra minutes of recess given next Monday. Here is what happened:

We had a quick class chat after it was over. I offered this deal to them each week, April 4th was the baseline, the number of minutes of recess was up to them. I asked them if they could work together as a team to meet their goals. Here were the agreements that they came up with together after I told them it was a standing offer:

- Practice every morning when you get to school.
- Add 5 minutes of math fact practice at home.
- Practice when we finish our math assignment during math class
- Quiz each other on our math facts throughout the day

We will see how they do this coming Friday. I am really interested in rewarding their hard work, and if it is a few extra minutes of recess, so be it!