Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Math Facts to Automaticity

Automaticity is most often associated with sight words, but the concept can also be applied to the memorization of math facts. Whether we are discussing addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division facts, knowing these to automaticity, without thinking, is a necessary part of being effective in mathematics. Kids can learn math facts in much the same way as the learned the alphabet, how to spell certain words, and the steps to tying shoes. The way that all these things were learned is through practice. The key difference between math facts and tying your shoe is that kids understand the relevance of tying shoes. Part of what you want to do in your after-school program is to make learning the math facts relevant. Have contests, check students out often, reward them randomly for knowing a particular math fact, identify key math facts as the challenge of the week. Be intentional in asking students to memorize math facts and help them to see why it is to their advantage.

As you become intentional about math facts you might need some support. There is a terrific website, the Math Fact Café, at http://www.mathfactcafe.com/ , that can be a wonderful resource for you. This web site has worksheets and games that you can select that will reinforce math facts. The Café also has activities and games that will help students understand money and fraction equivalents.

Not so usual celebrations…
August 10th is officially a Lazy Day. It’s been rumored that the creators of this day were going to get congress to declare August 10th officially as Lazy Day. However, before they got it done, they went into relaxation mode so the day is an undocumented celebration. Actually, you will notice that it is Lazy Day, not Lazy People Day. This is because by this time of each year, summer heat has settled in, and if you live near water or on the east coast, you also have a great deal of humidity that makes the day seem even lazier. So, enjoy this lazy day. Swing in a hammock, read a book, sit by the pool or on the beach—in other words, take a time out and r-e-l-a-x—this is not the day to do something, it is, in fact, a lazy day.

Activity for kids… Have the kids brainstorm all of the things they would like to do on a Lazy Day. Create a group list and then have the students work in small groups to weave all of the items into one, 24 hour Lazy Day. When the groups are finished, have them share with the remainder of the class.

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