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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Learning Basic Math Facts

As I am sure that you have noticed, we are really beginning to focus on learning basic addition and subtraction facts. Some of us are just beginning to memorize them while others of us are working to increase the speed with which we can say the answers. This is such an important skill to master at this age. Knowing the basic addition and subtraction facts quickly and accurately will make such a difference in your child's math career. I know I have mentioned this before but I have taught grades 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 (including Algebra). I can tell you that those students who had a solid foundation with their basic facts were so much more ready to tackle new math concepts and to use those basic facts to solve more complicated problems.  Now is the time to practice those facts with your child for a few minutes each day. Soon we will begin to create sets of Fact Triangles (flashcards) at school and at home that your child can use to help with practicing basic facts. There is an online fact practice game on the Resources page of our crew blog where students play against another player. You can ask your child to teach you how to play Beat the Calculator (we will learn it this afternoon or tomorrow afternoon) or you can quiz your child on facts as you are driving in the car. You can use whatever method you and your child enjoy. It's just important to work at it a little bit each day.

Having said all of that, I do want to emphasize that what I feel is most important for students to learn in math is how and why things (like addition) work the way that they do. I want to develop their mathematical thinking and problem solving skills. If I had to choose between learning basic facts and developing mathematical thinking, I would absolutely choose mathematical thinking. Thankfully we don't have to make this choice. I will, however, always focus more on mathematical thinking in class and spend smaller amounts of time learning the basic facts. We have so many tools at our disposal that can help with basic facts but we don't have tools that can do the deeper thinking and understanding for us.

Reading ~ Read a good book or two.
Math ~ Home Link 5.11 Adding 0 and 1

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