Enriching Addition and Subtraction Fact Mastery through Games

  • Enriching Addition and Subtraction Fact Mastery through Games

    By Jennifer M. Bay-Williams and Gina Kling
    Becoming fluent with basic facts is developmental. Use games infused with a focus on acquisition of strategies to help students in the early grades progress to computational fluency.
    The learning of “basic facts”—single-digit combinations for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division—has long been a focus of elementary school mathematics. Many of us remember completing endless worksheets, timed tests, and flash card drills as we attempted to “master” our basic facts as children. However, research over the past thirty years, recommendations from Principles to Actions (NCTM 2014) on effective mathematics teaching practices, and goals for students outlined in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) (CCSSI 2010), suggest a very different approach that has the promise of greater student engagement and success. Key to an effective approach to teaching basic facts is an understanding of the phases through which students progress as they learn their basic facts and a realization of how meaningful practice can be used to help students master their facts (Van de Walle, Karp, and Bay-Williams 2013). We illustrate how both of these aspects can be enacted through strategic use of games.