A year ago my colleagues and I were analysing student work and noticed that many students struggle with basic math skills (addition, multiplication, division and subtraction). We began to discuss ways in which we could help students improve their basic math skills and came up with a plan. We then were introduced to the Teacher Leadership and Learning Program and thought this would be a great way to fund our exploration. So begun our journey. We have just begun and would like to share through this blog our experience trying to improve students basic math skills.
November 4, 2014
My colleague who is working on the TLLP as well Dulcie sent me an article that kind of sums up what we are trying to do in our TLLP perfectly. There are two sides to the basic fact story. Some people believe that students should memorize their facts through the very traditional method of "drill and kill". Others believe that students need to develop a fluency with number, by being able to compose and decompose number. In the article that I have attached a link to I think it sums up our TLLP well that some students will have success with memorizing number facts, yet others will not. Those students who can't will become anxious and develop a fixed mindset about mathematics. "I can't do it because I can't memorize my math facts". Therefore we need to provide students with opportunities to become flexible with number very early on. We need to carve out opportunities in our daily teaching for students to be able to practice this flexibility. This is where our TLLP comes in, can we have success with giving students these opportunities to practice basic math facts and can we get them to become flexible thinkers in mathematics. "Parrish defines fluency as ‘knowing how a number can be composed and decomposed and using that information to be flexible and efficient with solving problems.’ (Parish 2014, p 159). I think providing our students with the flexibility of number is way more effective then memorizing a bunch of facts.