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Monday, 29 October 2018

Math Thinking Routines at your Fingertips!

Written by Lindsay Brooks, Instructional Coach
Workshop: “Guided Math Instruction & Running Records” with Dr. Nicki Newton


"Routines must be student-centered and student-friendly."
(Sanchez, 2010)


Once students learn“Math routines” they become quick to begin and practice! They allow students tohang out with numbers and get on friendly terms with them throughout the day, week and year!

Do a series of energizers and daily routines that build skills throughout the school year like:
→ number talks
→ number of the day
→ fraction of the day
→ decimal of the day
→ calendar math etc.

What they are:
Math routines or “energizers” are a way to get the whole class involved in developing number sense. The routine means students can perform it independently. They are meant to be low floor, high ceiling so there is multiple entry points for all learners.

There are a variety of different types of routines that can be used to help with the following:


1) Build Number Sense
2) Build Vocabulary
3) Build Conceptual Knowledge
4) Build Mathematical Modeling Skills
5) Build Procedural Fluency
6) Build Strategic Competence
7) Build a Strong Mathematical Disposition



Math Routines can be used any time once the students are familiar with them and are usually QUICK lasting 5-10 minutes.

They offer the opportunity for FLEXIBLE grouping and can be set up in a variety of ways including:

  • individual, 
  • partner, 
  • small group  
  • whole class



A favourite daily routine “Counting Around the Room”-
Dr. Nicki’s Guided Math Blog

Counting around the room can be really fun and works in all grade levels.
The count differs according to the grade level. In the primary grades you are counting by 1’s, 2’s 5’s and 10’s.  In the upper elementary grades you are counting by multiples, fractions, decimals and percents.
Remember that the FOCUS is on the relationships of the numbers!
So for example, count around the room by 5’s and then by 10’s.  Ask the students to talk about what they noticed. Have the students count by 2’s and then ask them where they think they will land if they count by 4’s given the relationship between those two numbers.  Have the students count by 1’s and then ask them where they think they will land if they count by halves.

Here are a few questions to consider about this routine:

1. What are your scaffolds, so everyone has a way into the activity and can experience success?
2. Is your numberline out, visible and accessible?
3.  Does everyone have their own number line?
4.  Is your numbergrid out, visible and accessible?
5.  What other models and tools might the students use to access the count?
More Energizers...
Rule of the Day.  The teacher states a rule like:
  • Doubles
  • Doubles Plus One
  • Half Facts
  • Ten More
  • Ten Less
  • Multiples
Playing the game: The teacher says a number and the students have to answer following the rule.  For example, if the teacher said, the rule is “Half Facts” the starter number is 20 then students would say 10, 5, 2.5 depending on the grade level.  If the prompt is doubling and the starter number was 50 the students would say 100,200,400 etc. This can be a fun, energetic, academically rigorous game that gets students very flexible with math facts.  Look at your math curriculum and pick your rules based on what the students need to know!
Think Math! logoSee Think Math! For more
1. Half It!  Teacher gives an even starter number.  Kids verbally toss it around the room- each child halving it until you get to the first odd number.  So for example,
Starter number 20 – Trevor says 10 – Lisa says 5 – we stop.
Starter number 200 – Michael says 100 – John says 50…they keep going till they can’t go anymore
Starter number 1/2 – Troy says 1/4 – Trina says 1/8 ….
2. Double It!   Teacher gives a starter number and kids verbally toss it around the room…this time doubling the number.
3.  Number Line It! –  Draw an unlabeled number line and then have the students plot numbers. Teacher says…draw a numberline…start it with 500 end it with 1000…write where 650 is…write where 899 is….
Teacher says…draw a numberline…start with 2/3 and end with two and a half…write where one and a half goes…write where 1 and 3/4 goes… write where 2 goes
A few other Recommended Resources:
***In many cases you have to copy the link and paste it into the url because it is a pdf and it won’t hyperlink.***


Dr. Newton is also an active pinner (https://www.pinterest.com/drnicki7/) and

Tweeter @drnickimath

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Developing Basic Fact Fluency Doesn’t Just Happen


Written by Rebecca Forchuk, Principal
Workshop: “Guided Math Instruction & Running Records” with Dr. Nicki Newton                  

I often hear teachers who are frustrated when students don’t know basic facts or have difficulty recalling them effectively.  There are no shortages of negative implications when students do not have basic fact fluency.  It can:
·         limit student’s mindset in math.
·         increase math anxiety.
·         hinder their ability to understand higher level concepts because so much of a student’s cognitive load is spent on figuring out simple facts. 

How do we know where students are struggling with their basic facts?  Where are they in the learning progressions?  It is almost impossible to provide individualized, targeted interventions if we do not assess where student understanding is breaking down.  If you were told that, in 10-12 minutes, you could find out exactly where a student’s barrier is to becoming fluent in basic facts, would you try it?
If so, the answer is in Math Running Records.  There are four different running records designed: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

The purpose of running records are to:
  • Uncover specific strategy levels students are at
  • Get behind student thinking, not just speed, accuracy, flexibility and efficiency
  • Inform planning, guide instruction, whole group learning, small group learning, and stations/centers
  •  Monitor student progress

There are 4 core parts to running records:

  1. Overview and introduction of the process with the student
  2. Part 1 – Assessing for Automaticity (Instant recall and accuracy)
  3. Part 2 – Flexibility and Efficiency (students look at a specific problems and use place value, properties and the relationship between operations to solve problems (Newton, 25)
  4. Part 3 – Mathematical Dispositions (feelings about themselves as a mathematician)

In order to provide targeted interventions for basic facts, it is important to know where students are in the learning progression.  Dr. Newton’s process for running records is research-based, clear and follows a step-by-step process (watch here).  Students’ responses give very specific insights about what strategies are used and what next steps are.  Dr. Newton’s book (Figure 1.1) lays out the process very clearly and all of the necessary resources are found on her website. 

We don’t expect you to figure it out on your own!  People who can support running records in your class are:

Shelly Read, Numeracy Curriculum & Instruction Facilitator;
Darla Milford, Instructional Coach at Big Rock, Spitzee, Joe Clark;
Julie Julian, Instructional Coach at Millarville, McLaren, Turner Valley, Pegler;
Lindsay Brooks, Instructional Coach at RDL, Westmount;
Rebecca Forchuk, Principal

Consider using math running records to provide you with data to inform next steps and monitor progress.  Connect with us to show you how! 

Follow the blog over next four Wednesdays when we post another component for developing understanding, fluency and efficiency of basic facts.  Topics will include guided math, fluency, problem solving and math thinking routines.

Be sure to follow Dr. Nicki Newton’s blog for practical ideas on developing number sense!