A basic facts fluency approach that works! Engaging mini-lessons focusing on conceptual understanding, patterns & strategies.
Teachers -- your work with students and parents will be different for the next weeks and possibly months. If any of our resources can help, please feel free to use them now and into the future. And also feel free to let your parents and colleagues know that they are available to them as well.
Parents -- FactsWise resources provide activities and games to engage your children with basic facts fluency and number sense learning. You may also find the practice workbooks helpful (although they are not meant for initial instruction).
For initial instruction, you and your learners may want to check out the Learn Zillion screencasts (created by teachers and free during the Shutdown).
We suggest actively engaging students for 5 to 10 minutes every day. The FactsWise Resource Books provide daily suggestions.
Once students are confident with their 5s and 10s, they have a strong foundation that allows them to use flexible strategies for other facts!
FactsWise identifies four possible manipulatives for add/subtract and also for multiply/divide. Most classrooms have easy access to at least two of these.
Whole-class activities such as number talks and Clap Facts as well as paired activities and games all engage students and provide immediate feedback.
Teachers can learn which students are building fluency and who needs more time and support using formative assessment, and occasional one-on-one assessments.
I asked this 4th grade dual-immersion teacher what she would like to tell other teachers about FactsWise and about helping her students build math facts fluency and number sense. Her response emphasizes a key educational principle -- that students learn what we teach. The common approach that has us testing students on their basic facts without really teaching them just doesn't work for way too many students.
Ellipsis Math was inspired in 1997 by parents and has continued to evolve ever since then.
SUMMER MATH WORKBOOKS: Every spring Valerie would receive questions from middle school parents about workbooks they might purchase to help their students maintain or improve their mathematical skills. And while workbooks for elementary students were easy to find, middle school offerings were much scarcer. So Valerie decided to create something that would focus on skill building and more. The more was the important part -- lots of problem solving and mathematical puzzles and games to help remind students that math is a fascinating and beautiful subject.
TUNING UP COMPUTATIONALLY: Also responding to parent questions and concerns, Valerie developed an approach to supporting students with elementary computational fluencies. For some students, these weekly Tuning Up Computationally reviews are easy and help them stay fluent. For others, the reviews highlight computational weaknesses that need to be addressed. With quarterly assessments, students, parents and teachers are all able to stay informed about progress and next steps.
FACTSWISE FOR MATH FACTS FLUENCY: The need for a classroom teaching approach to facts fluency was jointly triggered by parent and teacher concerns. Teachers and parents all want students to be fluent and mathematically confident. But the old paradigm of repeatedly time testing students and expecting them to somehow learn the facts without classroom instruction hasn't worked for too many students. And so Valerie researched facts fluency teaching and learning from 2002 through 2004 and began developing and piloting FactsWise in 2004.
We're excited to be able to share videos, mini-lesson ideas and games with you on a weekly basis.
Valerie has been a math educator since 1986. She taught middle school math for 17 years, and has worked with undergraduates, graduate students, and credential candidates as a lecturer at UC Irvine since 2002.
She has provided math professional development for K-12 teachers throughout her career, working with individual schools, districts, county offices of education, Illustrative Mathematics, the SBAC Digital Library, the UCI Math Project, and the California Math Renaissance Project.
Valerie has an Ed.D. from UCLA/UCI and a B.A. in mathematics from U.C. Davis, is credentialed in both Multiple Subject and Single Subject mathematics and received National Board Certification in Early Adolescent Mathematics.
In 2004, Valerie began a pilot project to investigate more effective strategies for teaching basic facts fluency after discovering in her dissertation research that few first graders were building strong fluency and number sense when drilled with flashcards, worksheets and timed tests.
By 2006, FactsWise had been developed, piloted and revised using strategies based on research from around the world. Student data demonstrates dramatic differences between FactsWise students and students using other approaches. Teachers report that students enjoy their daily FactsWise activities and develop number sense and mathematical confidence in ways they haven't seen before.
Since 2006, Valerie has shared these strategies with teachers through resource books, workshops and online courses. Each year she has learned more about the needs of teachers and students and has continually refined her strategies for supporting teachers as they make the shift from testing facts fluency without actually teaching it, to truly teaching students through engaging learning experiences.
Valerie is also the author of the Ellipsis Math Summer Workbooks for grades 5 through Algebra and Geometry. These books balance skill review and practice with problem solving and exploration of a variety of famous mathematical puzzles and games.
Valerie balances her time as a lecturer in mathematics education at UC Irvine with her commitment to share what she has learned about helping students develop basic facts fluency, part-whole thinking, and flexible number sense through FactsWise workshops.
Valerie Henry, Ed.D.