How Can I Help Student Learn Math Facts?

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Check Out the New Blog Teacher Showing Paper To Teenage Girl During ExaminationSometimes, teachers may provide certain incentives to the students to increase fluency in math facts. A student may benefit greatly from this type of encouragement.

Materials: Worksheets, prizes


The teacher first conducts a brief experimental analysis to determine whether incentives will increase a particular student’s performance:

The student is given a worksheet with arithmetic facts and allotted two minutes to complete as many items as possible. The student receives a point for each correct digit written on the worksheet.

The teacher next prepares an equivalent worksheet with a different set of problems but composed of the same type and number of problems.

Before administering the second worksheet, the teacher presents the student with a ‘prize bag’ with tangible items (e.g., markers, stickers, pencils) and perhaps edible items (e.g., packaged raisins, crackers, etc.). The student is told that if he/she can increase performance on the second worksheet by at least 30%, the student will earn a prize. The student is asked to select a preferred prize from the prize bag.

The student is given the second worksheet and works on it for two minutes. Again, the worksheet is scored for correct digits.
If the student meets the fluency goal, he/she receives the selected prize. If the student fails to meet the goal, he/she is given a sticker as a consolation prize.


The teacher uses incentives only if the preceding brief analysis indicates that incentives are an effective motivator. For this intervention:

The teacher decides on a fixed time limit for worksheet drills (e.g., five or ten minutes) with an equivalent worksheet to be prepared for each session.

In each session, before the student begins the worksheet, the student is asked to select a potential prize from the prize bag.

The student reviews his/her most recent previous worksheet score.

The student and teacher set an improvement goal for the current worksheet (e.g., to exceed the previous score by at least two correct digits).

If the student meets the goal, he/she is given the prize; if the student falls short, the teacher provides verbal encouragement and perhaps a sticker as a consolation prize.

Student performance on worksheets is charted at each session.

Discuss here: What are some other strategies you use to help students learn and practice math facts?

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