One of the things I love most about teaching is the continual learning process. I eventually became an “old teacher” but I never tired of learning “new tricks”. Several years before I retired, I participated in extensive professional development about math instruction. We were told at that time, we could no longer use TouchPoints for computation, which I had used successfully with my students for many years. So, what were we to do? Why, teach fact strategies, of course! I started down that path, never believing that this approach could be effective with my students, those with mild disabilities. Taking on the challenge, I not only adapted this approach to meet the needs of my students, I became a firm believer that this is the way to go!
What I learned is that kids go through three stages on the way to mastering basic facts; counting, applying strategies, and automatic recall. As much as I love TouchPoints, this approach, along with reliance on fingers or number lines, consigns kids to the counting stage. Just so there’s no misunderstanding… the counting stage is vitally important while developing conceptual understanding of addition and subtraction and for composing and decomposing the parts of a whole. It is crucial to devote adequate time to this stage of development. However, whether counting all or counting on from the greater number, this approach by itself is neither efficient nor accurate in the long term. The continued use of counting does little to teach reasoning strategies. I still believe, for a relatively few students, using TouchPoints will be the most accurate and efficient method for computation.
While some students, with minimal exposure and instruction, can invent effective mental strategies, many others will require explicit teaching of strategies. Learning and applying fact strategies is more accurate and efficient than counting and helps develop fluency. It is easier than memorizing 100 facts in isolation, may positively impact reasoning abilities, and assists with attaining automatic recall.
My successful approach to explicit teaching of addition fact strategies includes introducing the strategies at the concrete level, naming the strategies, using visual and verbal cues, and teaching in a step by step manner. This approach is appropriate for a wide range of students.
I recently updated my Addition Fact Mental Strategy Doubles Free Sample, which can be downloaded from my TpT store. This sample includes a color and black/ gray/ white anchor chart, color and black/ white flashcards with visual cues, and 2 sample worksheets for identifying and discriminating doubles equations.
I am so excited that my top-selling addition fact strategy anchor charts, flashcards, and worksheets have recently been given a cosmetic makeover. In addition, I have added black/ gray/ white anchor charts and quarter page size mini-charts. The strategies covered in each resource are Add 0, Count Up, Doubles, Make 10, Doubles + 1, Add 10, The 9 Rule, The 8 Rule, and Monkey in the Middle. These resources are available individually or as a bundle. They will be on sale Friday, July 8th through Monday, July 11th!
Check back soon for a peek at my Addition Fact Strategy Games and Activities! What addition strategies are most effective with your students?
- Introduce each strategy using concrete materials. Ten frames and rekenreks are indispensable tools.
- Teach one strategy to mastery. Teach a second strategy to mastery. Practice discriminating and applying these two strategies. Then teach the next strategy.
- Teach your students where they are. They will learn and apply strategies at their own pace.
- Commit to spending the time it takes. Fluency in basic computation is an essential skill.