We hear a lot about fluency in the ELA world. We want our students to be fluent readers and writers in order to be successful. But what about math fluency? It’s just as important as reading fluency. It begins with addition and subtraction facts and continues to multiplication and division. Some students have trouble becoming fluent in mathematical concepts. Let’s talk all about why you need multiplication fluency in your classroom.
What is Fluency?
Math fluency is a student’s ability to recall math facts and concepts without thinking about them. Fluency includes their number sense, the accuracy of their answers, and their actual understanding of concepts. There are four key concepts to consider when determining if a student has mastered fluency: flexibility, appropriate strategy use, efficiency, and accuracy. Our job as teachers is to provide ample opportunities for our students to master their facts in fun and engaging ways.
Why is it Important?
Multiplication fluency in your classroom is important for several reasons. As students progress to higher levels of math, they will be required to recall basic math facts to solve problems in a timely manner. Also, learning basic multiplication facts develops number sense. This means that students will better understand the relationship between numbers and will be better equipped to solve problems more quickly.
Fact fluency adds to a student’s confidence level. When they have mastered the skills, they will feel better about themselves, which will lead to added success. Math anxiety starts when children fall behind, begin to struggle, and can’t keep up. To avoid these anxieties, students must master math fluency to be successful in future math courses and even their careers.
It is important to nail this down early on so that students do not struggle as concepts become more complex each year.
You may be wondering how to assess multiplication fluency in your classroom. Just like everything else, you should use both informal and formal assessment measures. A checklist or chart is a great informal assessment tool to use in fluency folders. Timed math fact fluency tests are a great formal assessment tool. Instead of just focusing on correct answers, students will work to get as many correct answers as they can in the given time.
A general rule of thumb is for students to recall a fact in 2 seconds or less. So if students were given one minute to complete math facts, we would be looking for students to answer 30 or more facts correctly. Students love tracking their progress toward reaching this goal.
As always, you will be observing your students during whole group instruction, small groups, and math centers, and even assessing their homework and extra practice opportunities. You will be amazed at how much information you can pick up by just watching and listening.
How to Teach Math Fluency
Before students gain automaticity with their facts, they must understand the actual skill and concept being taught. After that is done, they will be able to become fluent. We need to be sure to give them consistent opportunities to practice. The challenge is doing this in a fun and engaging way. No more drill and kill with the flashcards. Here are a few ideas:
#1 Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice is the key to fluency. Incorporate it into your morning work, math lessons, and transition times. You can never get enough fluency practice. Mix up the practice time to include packets, games in centers, and digital activities.
There are also some amazing websites out there that are perfect for teaching math fluency. Xtramath is one of my favorites. It meets individual students’ needs and offers a scaffolding approach. They have an app and a website, and it takes less than 5 minutes a day to complete. So, you can easily rotate students in and out to make sure everyone gets daily practice in.
Games are always a great idea to enhance learning and multiplication fluency in your classroom. They are especially great for math fluency because they take the pressure off students that they may feel during timed tests. There are tons of math fluency games you can rotate in and out of your centers. Here are a few of my favs.
War-You can play a simple game of War using a deck of cards or dice. Have students pair up and split the deck between them. They will each turn over the top card from their pile. Whoever is the first to correctly add, subtract, multiply, or divide the two numbers gets to keep the cards. The winner is whoever has the most cards at the end of the game.
Beach Ball Toss-Grab a cheap beach ball from the Dollar Store and write math problems on each space. Take turns tossing the ball around the classroom. The student must correctly answer the problem that their hands land on when catching the ball. This is a great game for transition times or a brain break because it does not take time to set up or clean up. The kids always enjoy it, and it provides quick and efficient practice.
Flashlight Tag-All you need is your whiteboard and two flashlights(wrap one with colored cellophane to distinguish it from the other.) Before beginning the game write several answers to math problems on the board and divide your class into two teams. With the lights off, have two students come to the front of the room. Give the students a math problem. The first one to flashlight tag the correct answer wins a point for his team. This game is great to play with addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division facts.
#3 Fluency Folders
Fluency folders have always been a favorite tool of mine. I love to have “Fluency Fridays.” They also serve as a great tool for students to track their growth. Tracking progress weekly motivates students to keep succeeding.
Consider starting class with fluency folders each Friday. Students love to see their growth and how many more problems they got correct compared to the week before. Avoid lettings students compare their progress to their classmates. Instead, encourage them to focus on their growth only!
#4 Fluency Incentive Rewards
Life is always more fun with an incentive! This Multiplication Facts Fluency Rewards Incentive is a great addition to your lessons. It is perfect to use with fluency folders or on its own. As your students move through mastering their facts, they will earn rewards along the way to earn an ice cream party! You will also receive:
- 100 Fact Multiplication Benchmark Quiz
- 1-Minute Timed Quizzes (0-12)
- Multiplication Mastery Letter to Parents (EDITABLE)
- Quiz Schedule for Students (EDITABLE)
- Multiplication Study Log for Students (EDITABLE)
- Build Your Own Ice Cream Sundae Poster for the Classroom (EDITABLE)
- 3 Different Sets of Mini Incentive Charts for Students
- Multiplication Chart: Facts at a Glance Card for Students –
- Congratulations Card for Students (EDITABLE)
- Ice Cream Sundae Party Items Request Sheets to send home to parents
This ice cream incentive is a great way to get your students working towards memorizing their multiplication facts! It’s super easy to use, and everything is included except the ice cream and toppings. 🙂 Just edit, print, and go! Step-by-step directions and printing tips are included! You and your students will love it!
Grab your own copy of the Multiplication Facts Ice Cream Incentive in my store. You will love knowing that your students are working hard toward mastering those math facts. Your students will love working for that sweet treat!
I hope you have a better understanding of why you need multiplication fluency in your classroom. It is super important for your students to be successful in the coming years. I can’t wait for you to try some of these fun games and activities with your students!
Save These Ideas for Later!
Be sure to pin this to your favorite math board for all of your fluency needs.