Fact Families

Remember the days of doing fact family houses?  I did them when I was a kiddo and many kids still do them today….I even had my firsties make a few of them on dry erase boards this week.  And there’s nothing wrong with those cute little houses…

…except that they’re not much more than that…cute little houses…

Unless we add some rigor to that cuteness!  That’s just what we did this week in our classroom.  And not only did the kids get more out of fact families, but they had a BLAST, and most importantly, they became better mathematicians.

Our math skill goal was:

I can choose a related equation to help me solve a problem.

Our Standard for Math Practice was:

Our Common Core Focus Standard was:
1.OA.B.4  Understand subtraction as an unknown addend problem.

I started by introducing our goal and doing the following math talk…

20 – 19 = [  ]

We shared strategies and I notated equations to match the strategies…

One of my favorite parts of math talks is getting to notate kids’ thinking for them.  Kids can’t “discover” correct notation on their own…and they are always watching and end up copying what I model! {Plus, I get to color code strategies and it just makes me happy! :)}

Then, I pulled out the equations and we compared them to discuss what’s the same and what’s different about them…

I recorded the same three numbers in all equations as that came up in our discussions and we also talked about where the “answer” is in each equation and I put a box around that…

This talk helped kids see that there are a facts that are related.  Then, we charted our findings as I taught them our “fact family” song…. {To the tune of the Addams Family! ;)}

The next couple of days, we continued singing our song and doing math talks on related facts.  Here is one of my planned math talks….

Mrs. Shaddock has 10 M&Ms.  She ate 8 of them. How many does she have left?
     *What is the equation that matches the structure of the story problem? (our math skill focus for the previous week)
     *Which equation could you use to solve the problem?
            10 + 8 = [  ]
            8 + 10 = [  ]
            8 + [  ] = 10

These math talks only last about 10-15 minutes in my room…sometimes shorter, but they are so powerful.  The shallow reason is because there are many questions just like this on standardized tests (ITBS and MAP testing for our district).  These talks help prepare kids to be successful on those standardized tests…but in a meaningful way!  Because the deeper reason for these math talks is to help kids think logically and to justify their thinking….because those are skills that reach beyond standardized tests and even math! 🙂

And after a few days of math talks and singing our fact family song, lo and behold kiddos started using fact families to solve problems during our CGI Math Mysteries!  Here are just 2 examples for the story problem:

Warren had ____ dollars.  He lost ____.  How many dollars does he have now?

This sweetie still subtracted, but switched the order to subtract and was able to tell me exactly why during our 1 on 1 conference: “I didn’t want to have to count back 18 times…”

This is the same problem, just higher numbers….

“Mrs. Shaddock, it’s like way faster to do it this way….that’s why I’m already on level 4!” 🙂

I love these kiddos!  And when I think about what we actually want from those cute fact family houses, it’s that kids will USE those facts to solve problems.  As I tell my kids, if it’s not useful, there’s no sense in learning about it!

At the end of the week, I did a few math “show what you know” quizzes.  A few on dry erase boards (so fancy, I know, but it works!) and then one paper quiz for evidence to send home to parents….

I absolutely LOVE these weekly “show what you know” quizzes we are doing in math.  It gives me hard, concrete data on how my kids are doing (I have a spreadsheet checklist that I keep on each skill we’ve assessed so I can pull intervention groups for math!).  PLUS, it gives the parents a look–and some times a wake up call–on how their child is doing in math!

You can find 23 math skill quizzes, math story problem rubrics, plus 4 quarterly assessments for skills and math story problems and an at-a-glance look at how I pace out my math instruction in my newly updated Math Pacing and Assessments Packet!

And if a pacing guide is what you are looking for, you can find a much more detailed, year long pacing guide for math, literacy and science and social studies for first grade HERE.

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