The Cambridgeport Fact Fluency Challenge Is On!

The Cambridgeport Fact Fluency Challenge Is On!
Fact fluency—a vital building block of mathematical work—is the ability to automatically recall the answers to basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division combinations from memory and without counting. As kids progress through the grades and work with larger numbers and more complex problems and concepts, those who don’t have a solid base of fact fluency can struggle, using precious mental energy to do simple calculations, leaving them with less left to problem solve or think about “big” mathematical ideas. Last month, we began a new K-5 initiative: the Cambridgeport Fact Fluency Challenge. Our goal is to increase the fact fluency of all students and, at the same time, help them develop a growth mindset based on the idea that we are all capable of growing and improving if we assess our strengths and challenges, then set goals and make plans for achieving them.

If you’ve been to the cafeteria lately, you may have noticed some big rocket ships with a bunch of numbers on them taped to the back windows. (If you haven’t noticed them, take a look next time you’re in the building.) They are the Fluency Challenge graphs we will use to chart the progress we make by grade-level and whole-school, as we blast toward our fluency goals. Next to each graph, you’ll find a sign detailing the fluency expectations for each grade level. In the next week or so, you will also see grade-level graphs in the hallways near your children’s classrooms, and kids will receive personal fact graphs, which they’ll use to track their own progress with whichever facts they are working on.

Before February break, students in Grades 1-5 took their first challenge for all operations required for their grade. (There are kindergarten fluency goals, and teachers will be supporting and monitoring progress toward those goals, but kindergarten students will not be part of the bi-weekly challenges, and their data will not be included in the graphs.) Based on those results, teachers have given each Grade 1-5 student a specific set of facts to practice using a variety of resources, including flash cards with “clues,” targeted practice activities, and web-based computer programs. Every two weeks, students will complete another challenge and chart their progress. We’ve created structures to allow this work to be done in school time, but we encourage you to contact your child’s teacher to get some ideas about what you can do at home to support them.

Feel free to check in with teachers or me for more details. And remember to ask your child what they’re working on, and check those rocket graphs regularly to see the progress we make toward increasing fact fluency for all!

Glen Sherman
Math Coach