Monday, November 26, 2018

Five Minute Fluency

A few years ago, my coworker Kyrstin (@k_scaliatine) and I noticed that our students were having trouble with their math facts.  I know, math facts aren't everything.  However, many of our assessments in 7th grade are "no calculator" and math facts were impacting their performance.  We brainstormed ways to incorporate fluency into our class.  We knew that giving timed tests was not an option because it can cause a great deal of anxiety for students.  We also wanted to do something more than just rote memorization using flashcards.  This was something so important to us that we decided to devote the first 5 minutes of every class period to fluency. 

We started simple:  decks of cards, flashcards, and dice.  We searched online for games and activities that our students would find engaging and involved strategy.  Playing a game became a consistent way we started class.  Students came in every day, looked at the board to see what materials they needed, and started playing.  And yes, we set the timer every day for 5 minutes! 

We discovered early on that we needed a convenient way for students to access their supplies.  We purchased these from Ikea and labeled bins with student group numbers.  Most of the games are for pairs, so there are two of everything in each bin.

As the year went on, we continued to add to the bins.  We found ways to incorporate fractions, integers, exponents, and rounding into our fluency.  We never talk about speed or getting "faster".  We want this time to be fun for students and to help them strengthen their skills.  Many of the games are actually about strategy and we remind students to focus on that. 

What I currently have in my bins (most games are for two people)

  • Two of every game board (see ideas below)
  • Integer Game cards (1 deck for four students)--from Eureka
  • Two decks of playing cards (for playing integer war, etc.)
  • Two decks of multiplication flashcards (perfect for days with a sub)
  • One bag of dice including 4 six-sided dice and 4 twelve-sided dice
  • One bag of integer chips (yellow/red)
  • One bag of transparent counters (great for playing BUMP!)

Suggestions and ideas
  • No prep math games:  2014 and 2015 editions
  • Integer Football
  • BUZZ--sometimes, we even play good 'ole BUZZ!  We can even take that outside!  (see picture below!)
  • Integer Game--it is part of our curriculum (Eureka), but we still love playing it with ALL our students!  There are variations of the game to make it more challenging for higher levels, too!
  • War--red is negative, black is positive.  Start with simple War (higher card is the winner), flip over two cards to play "addition integer war" or "multiplication integer war", flip over two cards for fractions.... the possibilities are endless!
  • BUMP--there are SO many for free on Teachers Pay Teachers!  My 7th graders love them!
  • Count to 100--roll two 6-sided dice and find the sum.  Continue to add to your total until you roll doubles.  That is the end of your turn but remember your score!  Your partner keeps going until they get doubles.  If you get "snake eyes" (two ones), your score is reset to zero.  First person to reach 100 is the winner!  (plenty of variations!  Try subtracting from 100, etc.)

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