Memory plays an important role in enabling a
student to recall math facts accurately, relatively instantaneously,
and with little effort while working through a problem.
Through short-term memory, information is first
registered into the mind. The details of math facts within a problem
must be registered and processed quickly, with the sequence and
visual attributes of the facts preserved correctly. Active working
memory plays an important role as well, since students must instantaneously
recall facts while holding in mind the operations and steps of
the larger problem. Finally, efficient organization of math facts
in long term memory aids the student’s quick and easy access
of those facts contained in the problem. Thus the demands upon
memory are numerous.
Here are some strategies for developing and improving
students’ recall of math facts.
|Teach strategies for developing accuracy with
math facts before building speed in recall. Make sure students
have mastered math facts (can recall them accurately and with
ease) before testing or drilling them under timed conditions.
||Provide students with techniques for working
through facts that are not consistently recalled.
||For example, many students use their fingers
as a concrete counting mechanism. This requires them to stop,
put down their pencils, etc., and often interferes with the
students’ ability to fluently work through a problem.
An alternative is the "touch math" technique, where
the student touches points on each number with his/her pencil
while counting. This technique provides a concrete reinforcement
for the student, while also helping to preserve the fluency
of the problem.
||Integrate drill and practice activities into
a fun format, such as a game with a deck of playing cards that
students can play in pairs, or software that offers well-designed
||Encourage the use of calculators to
check accuracy and to do computation when appropriate (e.g.,
when facts are embedded in longer computations). It may be helpful
for some students to write down numbers before entering them,
or to use a calculator with a paper printout to reinforce the