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Effective Math Activities: Using Multiplication Worksheets to Assess Fluency

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Multiplication worksheets. Schools commonly use these to measure math fact fluency, yet aggregating response times is tricky, especially given the typical number of math facts measured. What's more, the resulting data rarely tells you which math facts a student knows fluently compared with facts they are still calculating. How to Maximize Effectiveness When it comes to multiplication worksheets, use these tips to maximize your effectiveness in the classroom: 1. Assess each individual fact. You can use a stopwatch or let a program like Timez Attack do the job for you automatically; but at some point, it's critical to measure which facts students can recall automatically and which ones they have to stop and calculate. If you don't measure each fact accurately, you won't fix it.

Multiplication Worksheets Fluency

Schools commonly use these to measure math fact fluency, yet aggregating response times is tricky, especially given the typical number of math facts measured.

What's more:

The resulting data rarely tells you which math facts a student knows fluently compared with facts they are still calculating.

How to Maximize Effectiveness

When it comes to multiplication worksheets, use these tips to maximize your effectiveness in the classroom:

1. Assess each individual fact

You can use a stopwatch or let a program like Timez Attack do the job for you automatically; but at some point, it's critical to measure which facts students can recall automatically and which ones they have to stop and calculate.

If you don't measure each fact accurately, you won't fix it.

2. Make sure students know facts

Fluent students generally recall AND input a 2-digit response in 1.9 seconds with a standard deviation of .6 seconds. Verbal responses would typically need just 1 second.

Remember--fluent students are automatic, but they are also confident.

It's empowering and motivational to know the answer, so don't shortchange students by settling for fumbled answers.

3. Report the results and do so as a letter grade

Few educators or parents will ignore a student that is clearly failing, yet the majority of students today currently have an "F" in fluency.

Worse, these students tend to be promoted without a second thought because of vague reporting of math-fact proficiency--if the lack of proficiency is discovered or reported at all.

4. Be careful using worksheets as assessments

If you have to use worksheets for assessment, at least do so in smaller chunks or lock down the average time. Two seconds per fact is a reliable mark of fluency, as is an estimated 2.5 to 3 seconds per fact for ten to twelve facts at a time.

For example, if you give an average student three minutes to answer 60 facts, they are likely to answer the easy facts in a timeframe of 1.5 to 2 seconds each. Afterward, students may take 3 to 8 seconds to calculate the more challenging facts.

The end result offers only an illusion of math-fact fluency.

5. Don't settle

Fluency is a core skill, yet the average student today plateaus in the 5th-grade with just 59% mastery--essentially for the easy facts.

Would you promote a student that had only learned 59% of the alphabet?

Timez Attack delivers 95% fluency in a matter of hours, so there's no need to handicap students for the rest of their math careers.

6. Don't assume that student fluency will magically improve over time

All teachers want to believe the best of their students.

For instance:

It might be easy to assume a student will eventually become fluent after they leave your class.

Instead, adopt the attitude, "If I send a student out the door with poor fluency, I'm likely ensuring they will struggle with math for the rest of their life."

If this seems like tough advice, remember--so is the world. Better to prepare students for reality before they leave your classroom.