Monday, October 26, 2015

Math Monday - Wrestling with Fluently and Memory

In February of this year, I wrote a post Math Fact Fluency has Literacy Connections and here I am back wrestling with -

Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies.2 By end of Grade 2, know from memory all sums of two one-digit numbers.

I was thinking and driving this week and realized this standard has two words I need to wrestle with; fluently and memory.  I got a little bit excited because it reminded me of my work with two other tricky words while teaching kindergarten; prompting and support. Let's look at the definitions for fluently and memory.

fluently - spoken or written with ease

memory - the mental capacity or faculty of retaining and reviving facts, events, impressions, etc., or of recalling or recognizing previous experiences.

I want to jump up, dance and start singing!  These two definitions don't include a set number of problems.  These two definitions don't include an amount of time.  These two definitions don't include a clock!  But now I want to look at another word - ease.

ease - freedom from difficulty or great effort; facility:  It can be done with ease.

I find these three definitions quite interesting and having a place in my math workshop.  I see verbal and/or written recall as an option.  I see the need for students to easily use their memory to recall basic facts just as they recall the letters of the alphabet.  Here's an interesting thought I just had, we don't ask student to write the letters of the alphabet under a minute why would we ask students to do this with math facts?  I see students working on learning their basic facts without worry and difficulty.  This might mean looking closely at students needs and working with them in different ways.  We have students identify letters of the alphabet orally, why not have them show fluently, memory, and ease of basic math facts orally?  We surround emergent readers with stories, predictable language, shared readings and read alouds.  Let's surround our mathematicians with math stories, mental strategies, math games and images of math.  I think this will guide our students work towards fluently, memory, and ease with addition and subtraction.

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