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Elementary Students Have Fun with Math Fluency

This is a photo of five students standing in front of a tree mural, each holding a leaf.Bellevue Elementary students are filling beehives; Roberts students are racing roadrunners; and Webster students are building a forest… all as part of new incentives to help them build math fluency.
Kindergarten students began the year with a focus on counting. First and second graders worked on adding and subtracting within 5 and 10. Third and fifth graders worked to build their multiplication facts, and fourth graders worked on adding multi-digit numbers. As the school year progresses, so do the students’ assignments, allowing them to focus on more advanced tasks.
To make their math learning exciting, teachers use Eureka Math to create multiple daily opportunities to build fluency. This means students enjoy fast-paced and energetic activities designed to help them use math with ease!
Every ten days or so, students have an opportunity to show off their speed and accuracy. They’re asked to complete as many math problems as possible in a given amount of time. If they successfully answer all the problems, they advance to the next level and earn a bee, a roadrunner or a leaf for their fluency incentive!
“By building fluency in math, students can efficiently use foundational skills to solve deeper, more meaningful problems that they encounter in the world around them,” Webster Math Instructional Coach Debbie Gilbert shared. “Fluency contributes to success in the math classroom and in everyday life. With Autumn in the air, we chose to fill our forest with beautiful oak, birch and maple leaves. When the snow started flying, our Webster Wolves worked on earning snowflakes, of course!”
The ultimate goal? To help students grow in their fluency throughout the year to meet the New York State Common Core standards. Differentiated activities help meet this goal, providing oral activities, manipulatives, personal whiteboards, handouts, and more.
Webster students say the ‘fluency forest’ has helped them learn their math facts and also realize the importance of math in their lives.
“A builder might need to use math to calculate the angles of a structure,” 4th grade student Hamza Maow explained. “Math is important! In 4th grade, we’re doing addition up to 10,000 – but I’m best at multiplication and division.”
“I like math because I like to be focused and I like to learn,” first grader Avery Brown shared. “I like to earn leaves!”
“In 5th grade, to earn a leaf, you have to complete times tables twice,” Jonah Jaffier, who enjoys dividing decimals, shared. “The leaves help me stay motivated because once I memorize the times tables, then I can 100% complete my assignment, and I know them for any time after that, too, like for a test!”
That easier recall, not straight memorization, is what Ms. Gilbert said is the ultimate goal of building students’ math fluency.

“The students are learning strategies and internalizing them so it takes them less effort when the more complicated problems come up,” Ms. Gilbert explained. “I hear the kids asking ‘how can I get my name on the tree?’ It’s always been a goal of mine to have a school-wide initiative like this, and it’s wonderful to see the students enjoying it.”
We’re proud of our elementary students for working so hard on their math learning; and our staff for making these fluency activities so engaging!
Anthony Q. Davis, Superintendent
725 Harrison Street
Syracuse, NY 13210
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