Motivating Students to Help Fact Fluency

I am excited to be linking up today with Joanne, from Head Over Heels for Teaching, on ways to "Spark Student Motivation!" There are always so many useful and unique ideas that can easily be applied to any grade level-so if you haven't checked it out be sure to head on over to her fabulous blog!  



Students in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade are required to demonstrate fact fluency with addition and subtraction.  Once they finish second grade their fluency in addition and subtraction is expected and they dive into multiplication. As we are hearing from our third grade teachers, this fluency is crucial.

We are constantly practicing our math facts through different games and centers but one staple for fact fluency in my classroom is Xtra Math.

Xtra Math is a free program that teaches addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to students.   I have briefly posted about Xtra Math before but wanted to go into a little more detail on how I motivate my students to give their best to this program each and every day.


At the beginning of the year I told students that this is a center they will see almost every day and that it is a challenging center.  It is supposed to be hard work.  It is not a game, it does not have any cutesy frills to it...it simply practices facts with students.  In past years, this left some of my students simply getting through it and not always trying their best.

In order to keep my first graders motivated and engaged with Xtra Math I created "goal cards" for each of them. As they finish their session,  students log in to see their score.  When students pass their goal they get a star on their old goal, a sticker and a new goal!  It has been working fabulously!

Each time student's goals get progressively harder!
When  a student believes they passed their goal they simply place their card by my computer and I check it when I have a chance (typically not until later in the day or even that evening.)   If they passed it they get their card back, with a star, a new goal and a sticker! In other grades you might need other motivation but for my firsties  stickers works like magic!  They are competitive to with one another which, as long as it stays friendly, I enjoy. When students reach their goal they show it off to their friends saying things like, "Woah my new goal is ____...that's almost to 100!"

I went to a session at a conference last year on "gaming" and how to motivate students through setting goals and making activities/centers seem like a game.  One of the big things I took away from this session is that the goal needs to be attainable.  Students need to see they are making progress in order to work hard and want to keep achieving their goal.

The end goal for first grade is to get to "100" on Xtra Math which means they have mastered all of their addition facts to 10.  However, I have to make smaller goals for many of my students because "100" is simply too far away. If a student has only mastered 10 math facts I might make their next goal 11.  However, if a student has mastered 80 math facts their next goal might be 90.  I make the goal easier to achieve for my friends who I know need to see immediate success in order to stay motivated.  Once they have seen success I can usually make the goal more challenging because they know how good it feels to attain their goal.

Students check their progress each day to see if they completed their goal.  
Students are able to check to see exactly which problems they answered correctly, missed, or took a long time  to answer. 
I started all of my first graders on addition but now students are all working on their own level.  The majority of my students are still finishing addition but I have a handful of students working on subtraction and even one first grader doing multiplication!




Happy Saturday!
Amanda


6 comments

  1. I've heard of XtraMath before and I totally forgot about it. Thank you for the reminder. I have a few kids that really need to learn their math facts, but I don't have a lot of time to practice it with them since they are supposed to know them by now as 4th graders.
    Thanks!

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  2. I no longer teach math, but I used this program when I did. It is a great motivator for students to learn their facts.

    Thank you!

    Mary
    Fit to be Fourth
    Follow me on Bloglovin

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  3. XtraMath is definitely great for any grade level. I have one student who is absolutely determined to beat her classmates in earning all of the certificates. How exciting that one of your firsties is doing multiplication. Teaching "big kids", I'd have to agree that fact fluency is so very important. I remind my kiddos every day that they WILL be using math every day for the rest of their lives. Should I be concerned that some of them groan when I say that? Lol!
    Alison
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

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  4. This looks great! I am going to actually try it at home with my first grader! :)
    ~Holly
    Fourth Grade Flipper

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  5. We use xtra math with kids in grades 1-6 but I love the idea of having them set goals. I think this would work even with older kids. Thanks for sharing!

    Tara
    The Math Maniac

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  6. I just started this last week! Do you let your students complete this at home as well?

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