Best Results Ever with Kids Learning Math Facts!
I am going to share with you what I did this year to be successful in helping our school be more fluent in math facts than ever before! We have had Reflex Math for about 2 and a half years now. The first year everyone didn’t know much about what to expect. The second year some classes were making progress with it. Now this year being in a new school with new people (we consolidated with another school), we had a slow start but by the end students’ fluency took off. Albeit some of the increase has been due to the increase of available technology and the new Reflex Math app on the iPad, but students this year were more motivated to achieve than ever before. I believe that is due to a few things I added to encourage friendly competition!
1. I added the 70% and up club. What child doesn’t want to be a part of a club?! When children reach the 70% mark, I post their certificate on the wall with their pictures in a central location. I try to take their pictures close to window light so they look nice. If students’ certificates are up too long without their picture they make sure they let me know about this. I print the certificates off weekly. These are available to easily print off from the home dashboard screen underneath the unprinted milestones link. I also have these students names called on the announcements with “Welcome to the 70% and up club…” and then I have their names called out.
2. To encourage students along the way to reach the 70% and up club, I send home their certificates if they are below 70%. Students get certificates for answering facts and they get certificates for answering a certain amount of facts. One of these certificates may say something like Joe Bob solved 2,000 facts. If the certificate is one that is fluency related then I attach a little prize such as a pencil or fake tattoo. These certificates may say something such as Mary Sue learned 25 new fluent facts. All certificates that are 70% and up go on the wall. I replace the 70% with an 80% or 90% certificate so that others walking by can see their achievement.
3. I have a special place to hang students who achieved 100% fluency during the year. These students have their picture retaken again for this spot on the wall. Also, I had a special ceremony for these students at the end of the year in which I invited the principal and guidance counselor to shake the students’ hands and pin them with a special pin I ordered from Jones Awards. I had wanted to order them all trophies, but I didn’t think I would be able to afford enough trophies with the school budget for those kids who had achieved 100%. I also have the 100% fluent students’ names called out on the announcements when they achieve fluency.
4. Each quarter I have parties for all the students who achieved at least 70% fluency. Once students achieve 100% fluency, they are able to go to all parties for each quarter. Most students who achieve 70% fluency go ahead and work towards the 100% fluency spot on the wall even though there isn’t much more reward to achieve 100%.
5. In addition, I have parties for a class winner in 1st-2nd grade and a class winner in 3rd-5th grade. I didn’t do a party for the 1st quarter. In the 2nd quarter we did a hot chocolate party with toppings, in the 3rd quarter we did an Easter egg hunt, and in the 4th quarter we did a water play party outside with sprinklers and water squirters. The kids anticipate these parties with great excitement!
6. Within each grade level I hand out 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons for the highest percentages of fluency achievement. These students pictures are also displayed in a central location for everyone to see. Some students are very competitive about this.
Because of all of these things, more students achieved 100% fluency than ever before. The excitement built around the achievement of math fact fluency built a positive momentum with the children for something to earn. When parents visit the building, they can often be found near the wall looking at all of the children’s pictures on display.
Some teachers became very competitive about their classes beating another class. These teachers built a competition within their own class. Towards the end of school, some teachers were sneaking their children who were still below 70% to the computer lab just so they could reach 70% fluency to attend the party outside. (I know the paper colors don’t exactly match, but I was just working with what I had :/. I will make it look better next year :))
I hope this sparks some ideas within your own building!