Thinking Strategies for Basic Fact Fluency

The Common Core State Standards require that students develop fluency with basic facts for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

ThinkFast! addresses the relevant standards while providing a unique combination of two important components of fluency with basic facts.

Explicit Strategies

First, it explicitly teaches strategies for learning the basic facts. The use of explicit strategies when learning basic facts has been identified as a research-based strategy by the Institute for Education Sciences.

Addition and subtraction facts are based on the use of place value for deriving facts. It is well documented that the most difficult facts for students to learn are those that involve sums (and minuends) greater than 10. ThinkFast! teaches the use of a “tens complement” approach to learning these facts. That means students learn to compose a ten when adding, and decompose a ten when subtracting.

The result is that students are not required to memorize the facts, but become fluent with them by engaging in structured practice that requires them to demonstrate use of the composition/decomposition strategy. As students use these strategies, they naturally develop fluency with repeated practice in applying them.

With multiplication and division facts, students also are taught to use composition and decomposition strategies based on the distributive property. For example, they learn that 6 x 8 is equivalent to (5 x 8) + (1 x 8), two facts they have previously learned in the program

Timed Assessments

Second, ThinkFast! uses a practice design that incorporates both scaffolding, which provides supports during the early stages of learning, and timed fluency practice. “Thinking time” is measured in a very sensitive manner by measuring and “subtracting out” the time required to enter the answers. This true “thinking” time, is the most sensitive measure of fluency.