Thursday, April 17, 2014

Math Facts...A Teacher's Continuous Frustration

Hello lovely people! You are almost there. Only today and tomorrow and then it's the weekend. We can do it!!

So I don't know about you but the biggest frustration that my team and I have found is kiddos knowing their math facts. Our 3rd graders come in (most of the time) not knowing their addition and subtraction facts, which leads into frustrations when we begin 2 and 3 digit by 1 digit multiplication and long division.

Every year, since my 2nd year of teaching, I have required my kiddos to complete at least 5 minutes of math fact practice a night. We started out by focusing on addition and subtraction at the beginning of the year and now moving into multiplication and division. has been the easiest way for me to keep track my kiddos' progress within their math facts, plus it's FREE. You can keep your class open until August (whenever the next school year begins) so your kiddos can practice their facts over the summer as well. You can also set up your student computers so your kiddos can just click on their name, put in their pin, and practice on student computers as well.

There are various reasons why this tool is amazing to me. However, one of the biggest reasons why I love using Xtramath is due to being able to see if your kiddos have practiced their facts.

This is part of my current class.

As you can see above, it shows different colored dots (these all mean different things) for each day my kiddos have logged on. I check this every morning to make sure that my kiddos have signed on and practiced their facts.

 Another benefit is you can also view which facts your kiddos are struggling with. All you have to do is click on one of the student's name (whoever you want to investigate) and a calendar will show up. You can pick whatever day you want to view (I always choose the most current day). This screen will pop up.

One of my student's progress on her multiplication facts.

I like to use this to have my kiddos create their own flash cards out of these problems. The red X's are the ones that this student struggled to answer within 3 seconds. The check marks represent the problems that she knows and could answer within 3 seconds.

It allows your to differentiate your kiddos so they can practice whatever math facts are suitable to them.
The different programs that you can place your students in.
At the beginning of the year, I always start my kiddos out with addition and subtraction. If they pass through those, then I move them to multiplication and division. I have had one kiddo pass all 4 levels this year, so I had him complete the Advanced 2 Second for all four operations. This is where he gets 2 seconds to solve the problem. He also graduated from that so he doesn't have to practice his facts nightly anymore. This really pushed some of my kiddos to practice their facts so they get the same privileges.

As your kiddos complete a program, Xtramath will generate a certificate to give to your students. You can print these out and present them to the students.

I love to make this into an awards ceremony. It makes the kiddos feel good and gain confidence.

Some of you may be wondering, "What do you do with your kiddos who do not have internet access at home?" Well at the beginning of the year, I had my kiddos do flashcards. However, as the year went on, I had some of those kiddos who I noticed weren't making gains. Therefore, I started making them fill out a math facts sheet. Some of the kiddos who complete Xtramath nightly and weren't making progress started completing these as well. I copy these front to back (1 sided to 2 sided) and make sure that the front is different from the back. They are to complete one half of the page a night. I just put a check mark at the top of the completed section. To keep my kiddos from just copying down the same answers from one sheet to the next, I keep the sheets that were completely filled out. This seems to be the easiest for me to manage with my kiddos who do not do Xtramath. (Click here to check out Math Facts CafĂ© where you can create your own math facts sheet.)

Besides Xtramath, I also used my groups and RTI time to give my kiddos the chance to practice their math facts. Throughout the year, I have my kiddos complete timed tests. I started out my year by using my Addition and Subtraction Racing School pack so I could focus on addition and subtraction. Click here to read more about my pack.

My kiddos created their cars and moved them among the lap cards that I created to place on the wall to show which fact they were working on. As soon as they passed both addition and subtraction, they got to move to the finish line. I started them out by completing a pretest (which is within the pack) to determine the facts that they needed to work on. Then I gave them flashcards for them to practice with at home. The kiddos who completed both addition and subtraction got to have free time while the rest of my kiddos were completing their timed tests.

Now that we are towards the end of our year, I now have started implementing Amy's Multiplication and Division Boot Camp so I could focus on multiplication and division. This works just like my addition and subtraction pack (Amy had the idea first). Click here to see what her Boot Camp entails.

I had my kiddos play the "Build Your Own Soldier" game two weeks ago when we did our stations. I laminated them so they wouldn't fall apart. To show them off, I placed the soldiers under the Smartboard in my room. Then I used a paper clip to put their dog tags of the drills that they completed on their hand. I thought they turned out really cute.

A close up of what the dog tags look like
After they pass a drill, they get to put their dog tag on their soldier

Soldiers lined up

A close up of one of my kiddo's soldier

Timed tests can be very hard to manage at times. They have to be checked daily. To cut down on the amount of stuff for me to check (check out my Checking Homework...A Time Saver post for more information on how to cut down on the amount of checking your kiddos' work), I have my kiddos check their own timed test.
This is the picture I was referring to from yesterday's post...Wordless Wednesday: Math Facts
As you can see, the timed tests and answer keys are in the cups, along with some pens. I call the kiddos up to check the drill number that they are on at the time. They get the answer key out and check the answers. They circle whatever answers are not correct or put a star at the top if they are all correct, put the cup back, and head back to their desk. Then they fill out their drill sheet. They love this as it gives them the immediate feedback so they know which drill to practice next.
In addition to timed tests, I have my kiddos complete math facts practice when they are playing a game with their math group and when they are at a math fact station for RTI. These come from the Addition and Subtraction Racing School, Multiplication and Division Boot Camp, simple deck of cards games, and websites.
As you may already know, I love to implement technology in my classroom anytime I get the chance. I try to place shortcuts to websites on my student computer so my kiddos always have resources that focus on the concept at hand. Here are some other great websites that I have used to help implement math facts:
  • Fact Monsters: Your kiddos can choose between the operation that they need more practice on and choose a level to practice those facts on. Tracks how many they have correct and contains milestones that they can reach.
  • Math Facts Pro: Your kiddos can choose between the operation that needs to be focused on. Your kiddos can then decide which grade level needs to be done (this will allow for differentiated instruction). The kiddos have the opportunity to click on the answer and it tracks the amount of time for each problem that is completed. Once the round is complete, your child can print out his/her progress. You can pay for an upgrade to get more options.
  • ABCya Math Fact Shoot-Out: This is a game where your kiddos get to practice math facts while playing basketball. Again, this is differentiated where your kiddos can determine the level and operation that can be practiced. It also tells you a report of the percentage that was done correctly.
  • Sheppard Software: This website has a ton of games and resources for basic operations.
How do you implement math facts into your every day routines? I would love any feedback you may have.
Hope the rest of your week goes well!


  1. My class loves Xtra Math, but I had no idea that I could change the programs for the kids. Thanks for sharing that because I had a couple of kiddos who needed something different.

    Turtley Loving Teaching

    1. Thanks for your response! Not a prob! Good luck and hope you find the program right for your kiddos. :)


  2. Thank you for all your great ideas and links to other blog posts and math sites! I'm a 3rd grade teacher, too and am struggling with math facts fluency. I love the soldiers and drill tags!!!

    1. Thank you so much for your response! :) I try to do whatever I can to help with math facts fluency, as I feel like if my kiddos know their facts, they can be more successful! Good luck with your facts and hopefully you can use some of the resources above to help you! :)


  3. These are such amazing ideas! I love them. I can't wait to use them in my future classroom someday - hopefully! Third grade is my ideal grade to teach :)

    The Blossoming Teacher

    1. Erica, thanks so much for your response! :) I hope you are able to use them as well. Good luck with getting a job! Third grade is pretty awesome, if I can say so myself.


  4. Well! I'm also math teacher and i talk about my students, f they pass through those, then I move them to multiplication and division. I have had Two students who pass all 5 levels this year, so I had them complete the Advanced 2 Second for all four operations. This is where he gets 2 seconds to solve the problem. You have share superb idea, i must follow your instruction. Keep it up.
    Math Multiplication

  5. The teacher who teaches us math he really have some good knowledge about math as how he nailed the whole things easily. You can find more info here


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