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Who Should Use Building Fact Fluency?

Posted by admin on Aug 7, 2020 4:00:22 PM

BFF cover blog

We're just a few weeks away from the release of the much-anticipated Building Fact Fluency: A Toolkit for Addition & Subtraction by Graham Fletcher. Graham and our talented editorial and production teams have thought of everything--from engaging games and videos for both teachers and students, to making sure educators are equipped to use it in a remote setting with ease.

We've received some questions about who should use Building Fact Fluency, and in what ways they can use it. So we grabbed this excerpt from the Building Fact Fluency Facilitator's Guide--a valuable component of the toolkit that can be previewed here--to explain. Take a look.

Here are some of the ways this fluency toolkit can be used:

Kindergarten to Second Grade

The Building Fact Fluency toolkit aligns with much of the operations and fluency work of these grades. It provides plenty of opportunities for exploring the operations and properties, contextualized problem solving, connections across ideas and representations, and purposeful practice. In the earlier primary grades, this toolkit provides ample opportunities for students to make sense of important mathematical ideas and begin developing fluency within 5, and then within 10. Younger students should spend most of their time modeling, counting, and using what they know to derive facts they don’t know. Building connections and relationships is the priority here, and efficient recall can wait, although your students will certainly come to know and use some of their facts! In the later primary grades, this toolkit will support students as they consolidate and extend their understanding of addition and subtraction to multi-digit numbers, even while they are building fluency within 20. Some of the toolkit components can serve as entire lessons, while others can be used for short, frequent fluency work such as daily number sense routines, warm-ups, games for centers, or additional practice outside the math block. The toolkit materials can easily be swapped in to replace less engaging fluency practice in purchased curriculum.

Third Grade and Beyond

Building Fact Fluency could be used for students who have not had enough opportunities to (1) explore and solidify their understanding of addition and subtraction, and/or (2) improve their fluency so they can access grade-level content by marshaling their facts as needed. The toolkit can be used in full, or you can pull specific strategies, properties, and facts to solidify in short amounts of time, in or out of the classroom, based on students’ needs.


The toolkit can be used in pull-out or push-in settings both to develop conceptual understanding and reasoning and to target specific fact families and strategies students need to learn. The flip charts have been specially designed to be convenient for teachers working with small groups in corners, teaching off mobile carts, working with groups in hallways, or teaching in rooms without projectors. You might also use a laptop or tablet to share the Image, Tool, and Number Talks in that kind of setting. The toolkit could be used steadily throughout the year, or in targeted bursts as needed, with continued practice in between to keep students retrieving the combinations and building their fluency.

English Language Learners

The toolkit provides opportunities for students to grapple with important mathematics within the same context for several days, and then make connections across contexts, both of which support language development mathematical understanding. These tasks have been designed to maximize accessibility for multilingual students and emerging readers. For example, each problem context is first introduced through a purely visual context and discussion that honors the use of home languages and informal vocabulary before formal or symbolic work, so students can access their prior knowledge and build from there. Discussion is a key component of the toolkit, so there are many opportunities for students to build their language skills while building mathematical fluency.

Special Education

The toolkit can be used to support deep understanding of the operations while building recall of facts for all students. Historically, special education instruction has emphasized memorization and recall rather than conceptual understanding and connections, even though, “in the long run, a meaningful approach is a more efficient way to foster combination mastery” with students in special education because it both facilitates transfer and results in better retention (Baroody 2011, 44–45). Building Fact Fluency is designed to give all students access to the bigger mathematical ideas and relationships, making it absolutely appropriate for students with special educational needs. In particular, the visual contexts and multiple modes of participation are designed to encourage sense-making while removing common barriers to entry such as heavy text loads, assessments that require lots of writing under time pressure, or an overemphasis on memorization strategies.

Tutoring/Summer School/After School/Home School

This toolkit would work well in any of these contexts. The flip charts are included so you can create a more intimate setting with small groups, or you might display the resources on a laptop or tablet.

Across the grades, the toolkit is designed to be used in large-group, small-group, partner, and one-to-one settings. There are components that would work well in centers or at workstations, or with small groups or partners. There are also plenty of opportunities for rich large-group discussions.

Head on over to the Building Fact Fluency website to learn more about how it works. and while you're there take a look at some of the sample videos and download materials from the toolkit.  

BFF toolkit

See Samples



Baroody, Arthur J. 2011. “Learning: A Framework.” In Achieving Fluency: Special Education and Mathematics, ed. Francis Fennell. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.