Monday, 8 June 2015

Automaticity... everyday!

Automaticity... an unusual word with a powerful meaning.
We are familiar with the term automatic but take that term a step further into the world of students and mathematics. At a whole school level, we have recently been discussing the power of developing each student's automaticity - the ability to know and use all basic number facts automatically, so the brain can use it's ability to focus on more complex tasks.
I first heard this term when learning about QuickSmart - an intervention program for students who have not mastered the basics in their younger years. It is an intensive program where students work in pairs (with a QuickSmart instructor) to develop automaticity in all four processes, as well as problem solving later on in the program. Students attend lessons with their partner (a student with similar abilities) and complete a highly structured program - only moving on when showing a pre-determined level of success.
For further information about QuickSmart:
Students can make huge gains through this program but it does make us question why are there  students who need this??? Are there simple steps we could all take in our classrooms to ensure that every student has the opportunity to learn the basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts? Our school has been considering our lesson structures and the key components that are critical to support student's success. Where, when and how often does the notion of deliberate practice of these basic facts fit in??? The response seems to be everyday! If we consider the range of tasks that are available to challenge students when learn these facts, couple this with the explicit teaching of strategies to support student's learning... the potential for growth is enormous.
Is there a time when your students are working on the basics? What tasks do you use to support students and how do you target these to meet individual student's needs? What strategies will you focus on this week? How will you encourage students to take up the challenge to develop their automaticity???
If nothing else... something to think about as you plan your lessons this week!