# The Approach Is Everything

Complementary Mathematics / The Approach Is Everything

## Fluency Anchors –The Approach Is Everything!

Developing deep understanding of the structure and relationship of numbers lies at the very heart of mathematical knowledge and thinking. The fluency anchors created for each grade represent four foundational underpinnings from which complex algorithms and challenging math applications can be far more easily accessed.

The approach detailed below will result in the acquisition of student confidence and competence across the fluency anchors. Confidence and competence are the cure for math anxiety syndrome, math dread, math paralysis and other such math maladies. It will allow students to see that math is indeed understandable and can be thoroughly learned through practice and perseverance.

At any grade, any of the four fluency anchors can be chosen as the focus of activity, the order is not important. In fact, we believe that a couple of weeks of focusing on a particular anchor and then moving onto a second anchor brings some balance and variety to the process –but you, the classroom teacher will always have the best sense of how your students respond to the exercises.

First, select Form A of the anchor from your grade with which you choose to begin your study. Make enough copies of Form A so that each of your students will ultimately have several copies with which to practice.

Second, with each student having a copy of the Form A discussed above, slowly discuss the objective and process of filling in the initial part of that anchor page. Do this as a whole group activity while students fill in the correct answers to the initial part of Form A. Teacher guidance and student discussion is key. The activity should be unhurried, comfortable, fun and successful for all! At the conclusion of this activity, instruct students to write their name on the paper and return it to the teacher (for later use). The first sessions may take longer for the overall process to be well understood, but later sessions should be limited to 6 -10 minutes of classroom time.

The next day, pass out a completely new copy of Form A to each student and repeat the process from the day before making sure that all students get a chance to supply a correct answer or insightful comment. Allow students to work in small groups, pairs, with family, etc. until understanding is secure and complete; this process make take several days or a few weeks. Time is not important at this juncture. Each day that Form A is used, look across the remainder of unanswered items on Form A to see and discuss how the more difficult items can be approached and correctly answered. The unfinished portions of the Form As used earlier can now be completed. There are extra credit items on most forms for use by students who can easily complete the standard expectations of the form.

Continue to use this Form A until it becomes easily mastered by all students. Some students will require extra time and practice to become as efficient as the other students. Homework is recommended in these cases.

As Form A becomes mastered, move on to Form B of this same fluency anchor and observe the challenging parts of this form as students work with it for the first time. Some students may still need and/or want the security of working within a group setting for this work and for a few sessions using Form B, you may want to allow this support. Ultimately, the students need to become independent learners and completers of Form B.

When you sense that proficiency across Forms A and B of this anchor is wide-spread, introduce Form C and have each student work independently while you get a sense of how much time it takes the class to complete the form. If that time is under seven minutes, you can share with the class the recommended time expectation from the Grade Level Fluency Anchor Chart. As students become able to finish within this time frame, they can be awarded an “Anchor Master” certificate of recognition. It is most important to emphasize to the students that all students can reach this expectation when the necessary work has been dedicated to this activity. Also emphasize that there are no limits to the number of times an anchor can be practiced and that finishing first in the class is not the goal. Teachers may well be surprised by the students who rise to this challenge early and for whom this portion of the math class becomes one of their favorites!