Teachers in the United States are often forced to follow directives that make little sense to them and are far removed from research evidence. One of the initiatives mandated by many school districts that I place high in the category of uninformed policy is the use of timed tests to assess math facts and fluency. This article summarize the evidence from neuroscience and describe an alternative pedagogical routine that teaches number sense and math fluency at the same time as it encourages mathematical understanding and excitement. Teaching Children Mathematics April 2014
Depth Not Speed
Many people incorrectly believe that being good at math means being fast at math. It doesn’t and we need to dissociate math from speed. When we value fast computation (as many classrooms do) we encourage a subset of learners who compute quickly and discourage many others, including deep slow thinkers who are very important to math. We no longer need students to compute fast (we have computers for this) we need them to think deeply, connect methods, reason, and justify.
1. Tell students you don’t value fast work. Mathematical thinking is about depth not speed.
2. Don’t let mathematical discussions be driven by the fastest students.
3. When asking for hands up, don’t always take answers from the fastest students.
4. Don’t use flash cards, speed competitions, timed tests, instead value depth, creativity, different ways of thinking about math, and different explanations.