The Battle of Math Facts Rage

Another controversial post is in the works.  The hot topic of the night is math facts.  Yes we all remember sitting in elementary school having so much time to finish a page of math facts. Be it addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division we sat their stressed to finish with accuracy the entire page. As a reward as a kid, I got to move my piece around the world trying to complete the twelve steps.  Well I had parents at home who had us practicing, my sister and I, we practiced everywhere in the car, at the dinner table, and even randomly. You want the remote...Ok what's twelve times 9...108...Here you go.  Well news flash; this ended in elementary school, partially because we were past that level of math and placed in the advanced track.

Well teaching 6th through 8th grade, I agree math facts are important and students who know facts typically finish problems quicker and more accurately, but nearly everything that I am teaching 6th through 8th grade according to state standards and CCSS is NOT math facts!  So let's stop wasting the time on memorizing math facts in these grades and work on what the standards say and most important the mathematical understanding.  Does this mean I spend no time practicing math facts? NO! Every problem my student does has math facts. They are practicing while they do their work on a concept that IS 6th through 8th grade.

But CCSS says no calculators? Yes, but almost every student should have the skills to get the answers to the math facts even if it is repeated addition. If they do not have this ability we have failed as educators for not teaching the understanding of multiplication! Using math facts as an excuse for students being low, not understanding concepts, or not progressing through curriculum is a poor excuse at best. I would defiantly argue that some of my best students of understanding concepts are my students who struggle with math facts. Why? These students have struggled all their life typically with math and struggle to memorize. This means they focus on why it works and making sense of understanding instead of replicating patterns.

I leave you with some quotes from Math Solutions that emphasize similar ideas:

"While computational recall is important, it is only part of a comprehensive mathematical background that includes more complex computation, an understanding of mathematical concepts, and the ability to think and reason to solve problems"

"Overemphasizing fast fact recall at the expense of problem solving and conceptual experiences gives students a distorted idea of the nature of mathematics and of their ability to do mathematics."

Quotes taken from . Though the focus of this article is on timed tests, at the older grades I believe it can be applied to all math fact practice pages. This is my viewpoints expressed solely by myself and no one at math solutions.


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