Dean Ballard: Some look-fors in the classroom, some common things to look for. Students who need to work on fluency and building number sense get short, regular doses of fluency activities. Research shows that these short daily bursts are more effective than trying to do something like once a week review and drill. Fluency activities vary by intent. Some activities are simply memorizations practice drill, which is okay. Repetition is one of the ways we move things to longterm memory.
Dean Ballard: However, some activities should be fluency type activities that build number sense beyond just memorization. I call these those fluency plus activities. We must vary the types of fluency plus activities we give students. Everyday should not be the same exact type of activity. That’s where the engagement will drop off, and thinking required for the activities will be absent. You don’t need eight different types of activities, but at least a few to rotate and use at different times in order to continue the excitement level for kids.
Dean Ballard: And fluency activities should not be unintentionally taking over your lessons. It can easily happen. We see lots of interesting math connections that can be made into a sprint activity, so we keep asking and discussing with kids different connections they see, and 20 minutes later, oh my, kids are asleep. Or, the KenKen Puzzles are so engaging and fun, students are happy to keep solving them for half an hour or more. Yikes! My lesson’s gone.
Dean Ballard: It’s okay if this is what we intend. Perhaps it’s the first day with the activity so I know we’re gonna take more time with it, with the students, or maybe I’m setting up a menu of activities for the day, or stations so that some students can be at those activities, and some students can be in small group time with the teacher.
Dean Ballard: My point is that fluency plus the number sense type activities are good enough to take up more time, but should not take over important time from the day’s main lesson. The amount of time on the activities should be intentionally planned. Look for students to be highly engaged. The activities are not drill and kill, but rather strive and thrive. The activity engages students’ minds and interests. Students strive to succeed, and through effort, and the design of the activity, students begin to thrive where they once failed.
Dean Ballard: Often the key to students thinking about the math in the activity comes through questions or prompts from the teacher. Expect a learning curve where a couple of key questions actually need to be planned ahead, not off the cuff. Over time, teachers build their question capacity, and students build their capacity to tackle those questions. And just a quick shout out to number lines in the classroom.
Dean Ballard: This is one of, if not, the most useful visual aids in the class for mathematics, and in my mind, in my opinion, should be standard in all K-8 classrooms. Alright. Well, here’s a list of the things we did. I have to say, the oral counting, remember, that was early on. I talked about counting up and counting down by five, say, starting at 11.
Dean Ballard: Number talks we didn’t get to, but that’s another great number sense and fluency building activity from Math Solutions. You can look in that there. The rest, we see on the list. Alright. So, that kinda wraps up my list of activities I wanna go over with you.