Welcome to the beginning of a book study of Math Running Records in Action: A Framework for Assessing Basic Fact Fluency in Grades K-5 by Dr. Nicki Newton.
It’s easy to participate–simply read along and comment on posts by sharing what makes you think, what connections you make, what plans are put in motion, etc. I will also be posting some questions to think about as they relate to the reading each time I post, so you may feel free to respond to those as well. I am especially looking forward to hearing how each of us transacts with the text as we reflect on the reading, our teaching, and our philosophies. Dr. Nicki has also graciously agreed to do a Q & A in conjunction with the study, so make sure to keep a list of your burning questions as we progress.
If you don’t have a copy of the book, portions of the text will be summarized, yet other portions will be mentioned and will require the text for full understanding and benefit. Please feel free to share, even if you don’t have a copy of the text. Of course, I DO recommend you snag yourself a copy. Use Routledge discount code IRK95 to receive 20% off!
Let’s get started!
In the forward of Dr. Nicki Newton’s brand-new book, Alison Mello gets readers started off with a bang! Her discussion of the difference between memorizing facts and knowing facts from memory is essential understanding when it comes to helping students truly learn basic facts (addition/subtraction/multiplication/division). We all know it is possible to memorize something without having a deep understanding. Mello cites the example of children being able to memorize and recite the Pledge of Allegiance without understanding what it means. So the question becomes, how are students supposed to truly learn basic facts if they are immersed in a skill and drill environment of practice without meaning and the repeated administration of timed tests? For many the first step is knowing and accepting that they aren’t.
Furthermore, to best help our students progress in their knowledge of basic facts, we need to have better insight into what they know and understand beyond what can be gleaned from timed tests. Reading fluency probes came to mind for me–you know the one minute probes where students are asked to read and the administrator records the number of correct words read? This is supposed to tell us how fluent a reader is, yet it does not give us the valuable information about reading strategies used, self-corrections made, or the level of a reader’s understanding of what was read–all skills good readers possess. Many of us could then go on to argue that reading fluency is much more than the number of correct words read in a minute. Reading is about much more than speed and accuracy. Why should it be any different with basic math facts? I equate a basic fact timed test’s effectiveness to that of a one minute reading probe. There has to be a better way.
Dr. Nicki hits the nail right on the head! Knowing basic facts is much more than speed and accuracy. And, yes there is a better way. She has developed a framework for assessing students’ fluency that is research-based and multi-dimensional–the Math Basic Fluency Running Record. The dimensions of computational fluency include speed and accuracy, flexibility, and efficiency. If a teacher is strictly using timed tests, all dimensions are not being assessed. A Math Basic Fluency Running Record assesses each dimension, is used to inform instruction, and in turn helps students become successful.
In Section I: Chapters 1 and 2 give an excellent overview of Math Basic Fluency Running Records that sets the stage for the specifics of each type of running record (addition/subtraction/multiplication/division) outlined in the remaining sections of the text.
From Chapter 1: A Math Basic Fluency Running Record…
- is a three-part oral assessment taken in a systematic way
- assesses automaticity, strategy use, and efficiency
- counts student errors and self-corrections
- gives a deeper look at the thinking behind how students solve problems
- provides evidence of a student’s mathematical behaviors
- should be taken by all students at the beginning, middle, and end of the year
- should be taken by above level students every six to eight weeks; on-level once a month; below level every two to three weeks
- is used to target and improve student achievement
A breakdown of the three-parts of a Math Basic Fluency Running Record presented in Chapter 2 follows:
- Part I: Assessing for Automaticity – Assesses a student’s instant recall and accuracy. The student is presented with 12 benchmark facts to assess addition/subtraction within 20 and multiplication/division within 100.
- Part II: Flexibility and Efficiency – Assesses the student’s strategy level (what strategies the student has/uses given specific problems). The student is asked “what he/she is doing” when adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing specific facts.
- Part III: Mathematical Disposition – Assesses a child’s thinking and feelings about him/herself as a mathematician. The student is also asked what facts are easy and tricky as well as what he/she does when stuck.
All of the above is true for each Basic Fluency Running Records whether addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division.
Next Thursday, in Section II, we will discuss the specifics of administering and interpreting the addition running record and the implications it has for teaching addition. I love how Dr. Nicki has not only developed a powerful assessment tool, but she has included some phenomenal guidance for teaching as well. Chapters 1 and 2 are just the tip of the iceberg!
Now it’s your turn to share your thoughts and reflections of the text so far. You may also like to respond to one of the following questions for reflection:
- What adjective describes your thinking after reading? Explain why.
- How do you or your school define math fact fluency?
- Has any of the reading thus far been a call for action? Explain.
Your time and participation are greatly appreciated! Simply click in the “Leave a Reply” box at the end of this post to share. If you are used to blogger commenting, it will be new to you when you are asked to enter your email. Your email will not appear for readers to see. Once I read your comment, I will post it for everyone to see. This is a security measure to cut out any spam or advertisements.
I’ll see you back her next Thursday, July 14th! You can also click here to view the book study schedule.
All the best–