Fluency in Teaching Children Mathematics
The September 2011 issue of Teaching Children Mathematics includes an article by Gina Kling entitled, "Fluency with Basic Addition." Kling notes that the national Common Core State Standards make reference to fluency. She asks, "But what exactly does fluency mean, and how might fluency differ from having instant recall of each and every basic fact?" (p. 81)
First and second grade teachers may want to discuss this question as they consider the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics definition. NCTM defines computational fluency as efficient, accurate and flexible ways of computing (NCTM Principles and Standards of School Mathematics, 2000.) In the context of a Professional Learning Community (PLC), the article would be a great tool for teachers to examine best practices in early grade mathematics. And although the article specifically discusses addition, many of the same principles apply as upper grade teachers consider memorization of basic multiplication facts. Kling writes, "...fluent students are able to demonstrate effective thinking strategies that involve decomposition and recomposition of numbers and, as such, have had opportunities to develop more advance mathematical understanding than their counterparts who have been limited to rote memorization and drilling of their basic facts." (p. 82)
The article expounds on specific ways teachers can help students. Read about strategies that fluent students use and consider ways to use ten frames, subitizing (instantly seeing the quantity) with quick images, and games for practice.