____________________________________________________________________________

## Wednesday, February 12, 2014

### Math Fact Puzzles!

Just found some fun math fact puzzles! They were in a good PowerPoint presentation by Paula Swanson, from Boise, Idaho. She has a good summary of the research, and some great practical applications, which include conceptual learning. It's worth the read, if you are looking for more information/resources. We really hope to implement some research based changes when we convert our program out of Flash, especially allowing teachers to focus on fact families and select the fact order they use in teaching their classes. Meanwhile, here are some Word documents for Math Fact Find and Math Fact Jumble that you can easily adapt to your needs: to different levels, operators, etc. Each file has a addition/subtraction example, and a multiplication/division example, as well as a blank form that can be used to create your own (or for students to create them). Here the Math Fact Find and Math Fact Jumble documents in .pdf format. And below you can see what the puzzles look like. Have Fun!

## Friday, September 13, 2013

### The Key Ingredient in Fluency

We just finished analyzing the data we have at Math Facts Pro to see whether or not we were really making a difference in our effort to help students become fluent. We wrote a

The key ingredient that we found was the amount of practice. The more students practiced, the more they learned. (I know you're really surprised.) Our data consists of students who logged-in to practice on Math Facts Pro. We studied the addition operator, because it actually gets the most use, and we ignored the first 2 weeks of data, to differentiate between facts that students already knew, and facts that became fluent as a result of using Math Facts Pro. To determine effectiveness, we compared the amount of practice to the amount of new learning; specifically, facts that were learned for the first time after the two week period, and that never fell out of fluency. You can see our definition of fluency in the report. What we found was that students who used the site less than 50 facts (5 minutes) per week, averaged 2.2 newly fluent facts per week, while students practicing 250 facts (5 minutes daily) per week, averaged 10.5. Almost 5 times as many! Since we did not control any other variables, we can not prove what caused the difference. I'm sure that some teachers/parents who successfully get their students to practice regularly are also more successful in other aspects of teaching. But I'm convinced the main difference is just how much they practiced, which is what we measured. Math Facts in a Flash™ says that, of all their users, they do not have any grade levels where at least 35% of the students practice just three times a week. With Math Facts Pro, the average student can learn from 10 - 20 new facts each week. If you assign the practice as homework, you can even log-in in the morning and see who did it, how much they did, and hold them accountable for their learning. Just 5 - 10 minutes a day. Here's a look at our results:

So you learn math facts the same way you get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice. My advice is to practice smartly, with an effective, efficient program. You don't have to spend a lot of money, just $1/student/year.

**research paper**about what we found, and how Math Facts Pro meets the qualifications for Response to Intervention, tiers 1,2, and 3. (I suppose that kind of lets the cat out of the bag.)The key ingredient that we found was the amount of practice. The more students practiced, the more they learned. (I know you're really surprised.) Our data consists of students who logged-in to practice on Math Facts Pro. We studied the addition operator, because it actually gets the most use, and we ignored the first 2 weeks of data, to differentiate between facts that students already knew, and facts that became fluent as a result of using Math Facts Pro. To determine effectiveness, we compared the amount of practice to the amount of new learning; specifically, facts that were learned for the first time after the two week period, and that never fell out of fluency. You can see our definition of fluency in the report. What we found was that students who used the site less than 50 facts (5 minutes) per week, averaged 2.2 newly fluent facts per week, while students practicing 250 facts (5 minutes daily) per week, averaged 10.5. Almost 5 times as many! Since we did not control any other variables, we can not prove what caused the difference. I'm sure that some teachers/parents who successfully get their students to practice regularly are also more successful in other aspects of teaching. But I'm convinced the main difference is just how much they practiced, which is what we measured. Math Facts in a Flash™ says that, of all their users, they do not have any grade levels where at least 35% of the students practice just three times a week. With Math Facts Pro, the average student can learn from 10 - 20 new facts each week. If you assign the practice as homework, you can even log-in in the morning and see who did it, how much they did, and hold them accountable for their learning. Just 5 - 10 minutes a day. Here's a look at our results:

So you learn math facts the same way you get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice. My advice is to practice smartly, with an effective, efficient program. You don't have to spend a lot of money, just $1/student/year.

## Thursday, September 12, 2013

### Math Facts Pro: Now on Amazon Web Services!

After many trials and tribulations, we have migrated Math Facts Pro to the cloud with Amazon! We are really excited about the new server stability. Thanks for your patience - we hope you'll find it to be worth it. If you are still having issues, please let us know through the contact or help forms.

Mark Berg

## Tuesday, September 3, 2013

### Math Facts Pro server issues

Our current server does not seem to be stable any longer. If you have had problems logging in, or with students using the site, this is likely the problem. We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. If the site seems to hang up, you will likely have the most success by closing the current browser tab and starting fresh in a new one.

To remedy the problem, we are moving the site to an Amazon hosted server. This will take a few days, but we hope to have the move completed by September 9, 2013. If you try the site very early in the morning this Thursday or Friday (US Central time) and get nothing, it will probably be because the site has moved and the Internet is in the process of updating the new server address. (max 6 hours) The good news is that this should solve the problem. If Amazon isn't running, nobody's running:) Again, we are sorry for the trouble, and we thank you for your support.

To remedy the problem, we are moving the site to an Amazon hosted server. This will take a few days, but we hope to have the move completed by September 9, 2013. If you try the site very early in the morning this Thursday or Friday (US Central time) and get nothing, it will probably be because the site has moved and the Internet is in the process of updating the new server address. (max 6 hours) The good news is that this should solve the problem. If Amazon isn't running, nobody's running:) Again, we are sorry for the trouble, and we thank you for your support.

## Monday, July 8, 2013

### Common Core Standards

Math Facts Pro targets the Common Core Standards dealing with fluency. Specifically:

CCSS.Math.Content.1.OA.C.6 Add and
subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within
10.

CCSS.Math.Content.2.OA.B.2 Fluently
add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies.

^{2}By end of Grade 2, know from memory all sums of two one-digit numbers.
CCSS.Math.Content.3.OA.C.7 Fluently
multiply and divide within 100, using strategies such as the relationship
between multiplication and division (e.g., knowing that 8 × 5 = 40, one knows
40 ÷ 5 = 8) or properties of operations. By the end of Grade 3, know from
memory all products of two one-digit numbers.

Of course, fluency with the basic math facts is as
important to higher math as phonics is to reading. Students above 3rd grade who are not fluent
tend to fall further and further behind, something we are working very hard to
prevent. One of the benefits of Math Facts Pro is that you can quickly learn for each student which facts they are/are not fluent in, and then target practice to fix the problem.

## Friday, April 12, 2013

### Good Software vs. Pencil/Paper Timed Math Facts Tests

Knowing which facts your students are fluent in is critical if you are going to help them achieve fluency in the facts. The question is, "What's the best way to ascertain fluency?" Here's my take on the advantages of good software over pencil/paper timed math facts tests. You expected that, right:)

1)

__Automatic (instant) grading__, need I say more.
2) Good software will tell you if the student is

__fluent__. On a pencil/paper test, all you know is that, on average, they were fast enough. They may be really fast on the easy ones, and have to count on their fingers on the hardest ones, but they can still beat the time. Good software checks fluency for each fact on its own. And this fluency is a different speed for each student. We've all had students who could count on their fingers faster than other students could automatically recall the answer. So good software will have a way to determine how fast each student is; faster for some, slower for others. That way, fast students can’t count, and slow students aren't frustrated.
3)

__Instant feedback__– it took me a long time to figure out why it actually takes longer to do 100 facts on Math Facts Pro than it does on pencil paper. The main difference is that the student gets immediate feedback for every answer. Quick feedback if they are right, longer exposure to the correct answer if they were wrong. (And, if allowed, we throw in a joke every 20 – 30 facts, too, depending on the grade level.)
4) Good software will

__never show the student the wrong answer__, which is especially important for visual learners. (It's also not multiple choice, which tests recognition, not fluency. I'll get off my soap box now.)
5) If a student gets an answer

__wrong__, good software will__come back to it__again. If they repeatedly get it wrong, it will try to teach it. The test is actually a learning tool.
6) The data is based on

__all attempts the student has ever made__, not just the one attempt on the last test. Mastery is defined by educational psychologist as a certain number of correct rehearsals with no mistakes. With pencil/paper, you just get one shot. Maybe your handwriting was sloppy because you were going so fast.
7) Less frustration. Good software

__adjusts the difficulty of the questions__, so each student spends more time on the facts they need to be working on. High students get harder questions - they will get frustrated having to do all the 1's, 2's, 3's. Low students get easier ones. Not too easy, just easy enough not to discourage them and keep them going. What is the point of asking them the 8's and 9's if you know they don't know them? Differentiated instruction and assessment.
8)

__Random__. The student never has any idea which problem will be next, so they can’t memorize the answers.
9)

__Instant tracking__. When they get to the results page, the student not only sees how many facts they are fluent in, they can see how they've been improving (how far they've come).
10) Good software like Math Facts Pro (did you see that coming?) is

__constantly improving__J For example, next week (the week of April 8, 2013), we are hoping to launch the beta versions of Math Fact Scramble (which will help students move from fact strategies to fluency), and Contig (which will help students mentally manipulate the facts). It will still be awhile, though, before they are tied into the database, but at least the students will have a new, fun way to improve their fluency.## Wednesday, October 10, 2012

### Math Fact Fluency vs. Math Proficiency

I came across a video about Emma J King. Emma is a physicist (physicists do a lot of complicated math) who is somewhat dyslexic and struggles with arithmetic (basic math). She is not fluent with her math facts! Complex math is made up of a lot of formulas with a lot of variables. Her brain seems to be wired for complex math, but disadvantaged when recalling math facts and seeing some of the relationships between simple numbers. The two skill sets are quite different.

I've heard, but been unable to verify, that Albert Einstein had a similar issue. If you've taught very long at all, you've had students who didn't get math very well at all, who knew their facts well, and other students who did well with more complicated math, but did not know the facts.

So educationrealist, who teaches a high school math support class, wonders if we are spending too much time teaching for math fact fluency. (I'm thinking this is because her students mainly fall in those two groups.) Maybe math fact fluency is not critical to math proficiency?

We need to remember that we are talking about a minority of math students. Also, that fluency frees up working memory, which is good for all students. Perhaps the real question is how much time should be spent to achieve math fact fluency, versus other math proficiencies. Obviously, as little as possible! All the more reason for efficient and effective practice. Students who struggle with math fact fluency will benefit the most from mnemonic devices, or mental "hooks" that will help them remember. The data we are getting here at Math Facts Pro shows that learning increases steadily with practice up to about 400 correct facts/week. So if students practice 50 facts in class, and 50 at home, at least 4 times a week, they are learning the most effectively. The same frequency also happens to be the best at preventing forgetting. However, these are averages. We do not have enough data yet to say what is optimal for those struggle to learn the facts, or those for whom it is easy. My hunch would be to have the struggler practice in smaller amounts, more frequently, and have those who excel practice less, as long as they are getting what they need.

Obviously, there isn't going to be a concrete answer to how much practice is too much. (our data shows tha the more you practice, the more you learn, it just isn't as efficient) But remembering that each child is has different natural abilities, that math fact fluency is very helpful, but students can be successful without it, can help give teachers, parents, and students perspective, and compassion. Watch the video on Emma, it's pretty cool. And stay smart with math facts fluency practice.

I've heard, but been unable to verify, that Albert Einstein had a similar issue. If you've taught very long at all, you've had students who didn't get math very well at all, who knew their facts well, and other students who did well with more complicated math, but did not know the facts.

So educationrealist, who teaches a high school math support class, wonders if we are spending too much time teaching for math fact fluency. (I'm thinking this is because her students mainly fall in those two groups.) Maybe math fact fluency is not critical to math proficiency?

We need to remember that we are talking about a minority of math students. Also, that fluency frees up working memory, which is good for all students. Perhaps the real question is how much time should be spent to achieve math fact fluency, versus other math proficiencies. Obviously, as little as possible! All the more reason for efficient and effective practice. Students who struggle with math fact fluency will benefit the most from mnemonic devices, or mental "hooks" that will help them remember. The data we are getting here at Math Facts Pro shows that learning increases steadily with practice up to about 400 correct facts/week. So if students practice 50 facts in class, and 50 at home, at least 4 times a week, they are learning the most effectively. The same frequency also happens to be the best at preventing forgetting. However, these are averages. We do not have enough data yet to say what is optimal for those struggle to learn the facts, or those for whom it is easy. My hunch would be to have the struggler practice in smaller amounts, more frequently, and have those who excel practice less, as long as they are getting what they need.

Obviously, there isn't going to be a concrete answer to how much practice is too much. (our data shows tha the more you practice, the more you learn, it just isn't as efficient) But remembering that each child is has different natural abilities, that math fact fluency is very helpful, but students can be successful without it, can help give teachers, parents, and students perspective, and compassion. Watch the video on Emma, it's pretty cool. And stay smart with math facts fluency practice.

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