Hello Again!


Wow, I cannot believe it has been over seven months since the last post.

My WordPress install got corrupted somehow (something I did, I’m sure), and I was unable to access the admin functions…so finally after having time to backup, delete, re-install, and restore the databases, I can finally post again!

A lot of exciting development has been be going at Fluency Games:

Research Project

A local elementary school has been helping conduct a research project and beta-testing the progress reporting features of the Addition Blocks and Multiplication Blocks. The screens below show some of the data that parents and teachers will be able see when the game is used consistently.

Addition Blocks Student Data

Addition Blocks Data Screen

Addition Blocks Progress Screen

Addition Blocks Progress Screen

Percent Bingo!

Percent Bingo!, the next release from Fluency Games, is under development and will be ready for the fall. Percent Bingo was the favorite game of my former students. Percent Bingo is used to develop fluency in using percents, decimals, and fractions. The game will also feature adaptive play– increasing in difficulty automatically as the student becomes fluent.

Percent Bingo Main Screen

Percent Bingo Main Screen


Subtraction Blocks

Subtraction Blocks (formerly named Subtraction Smash) also should be available mid-fall. This game, although similar to Addition Blocks and Multiplication Blocks, will have a much more Match-3/Candy Crush feel. The game is also under development now, and will have 5 ‘rooms’ and 15-20 different predefined levels in each ‘room’.



Fluency Games Web Portal

We have also contracted with a developer to build out a Parent/Teacher/Web Portal. This will allow teachers/parents to view student progress and analyze their performance. This should also be ready in the fall.

The next post on using Addition Blocks and Multiplication Blocks will be out soon!

The Importance of Being Fluent (Part 1)


During my teaching career I taught 7th grade math, from below grade level through two years above grade level. I truly believed each student could learn the math concepts that were being presented, especially at the 7th grade level. So why didn’t all my kids learn? Why didn’t all my kids exceed on standardized tests?

There were many factors of course, but I put them in these categories:

  • Lack of Effort (this is the biggest one!)
  • Lack of Confidence in themselves (second biggest issue!)
  • Lack of Proficiency in fundamentals

However, it wasn’t until I “saw the light” on fluency, that I added a new category:

  • Lack of Fluency (which is closely related to fundamentals)

In my previous post, I referenced this statement concerning math fluency:

Educators and cognitive scientists agree that the ability to recall basic math facts fluently is necessary for students to attain higher-order math skills… If a student constantly has to compute the answers to basic facts, less of that student’s thinking capacity can be devoted to higher level concepts than a student who can effortlessly recall the answers to basic facts.”1 Computational Fluency is part of an essential foundation for more advanced performance.2

As I mentioned, this paragraph changed my view on why fluency is so important.

The sentence made perfect sense to me– “If a student constantly has to compute the answers to basic facts, less of that student’s thinking capacity can be devoted to higher level concepts…”

“Compute” is the key word here, and I compare that to “Recall”. If a student spends so much mental energy on computing 6×8, 9×7, or 3+9+7+1, and etc., then there will be less mental energy to work through word problems or process-oriented calculations such as:

  • Operations with Fractions
  • Long Division
  • Finding Means/Averages
  • Word Problems
  • Solving Equations

But, if the basic operations and skills are automatic (fluency), then there literally is no mental energy spent on that part of the problem because the values are memorized, and students can devote all of their thought processes to solving longer and more complicated problems. This also leads them to know when a solution is incorrect or (probably) correct, the ability to check their work, and the ability to communicate their thought processes to others.

What else results from this? If students realize that they are ‘getting it’, that builds confidence in themselves. They are more willing to tackle the next math topic, which makes learning easier for them. Which in turn means they are more willing to apply effort.

And that makes it much easier to teach students!

In the next post, I’ll discuss another result of fluency, and how students can go even faster…

1 http://www.scholastic.com/administrator/math/pdf/FM_White_Paper.pdf

2 http://eps.schoolspecialty.com/downloads/other/acad-math/research_math_fluency.pdf