Tuning Up ... Computationally was developed to help teachers and students maintain a balance between problem-based learning and maintaining and improving computational fluencies. Particularly when working with middle school students, we always hope that every student will arrive in our classrooms with strong computational skills. With that in place, we'll be able to focus our classroom time on topics such as ratios and proportional reasoning, algebra and functions, problem solving and mathematical modeling. But the reality is that we have students who come to us still uncertain about some of the computational skills they studied in previous grades. And other students are relatively fluent but can become rusty without some kind of regular and systematic review. With these issues in mind, I developed Tuning Up ... Computationally and my school and then many others began weaving it into our weekly plans. In collaboration with parents and students, we were able to identify and support students who needed extra instruction on computational skills that were taught in earlier grades. And all of our students engaged in a weekly review that helped them maintain and even improve their fluencies.
Tuning Up includes two downloads:
- The Assessment System contains four assessments of the same set of computational skills. We gave the first pre-assessment early in the school year (after the students had had several days to think mathematically after their summer vacations). Then we sent home the first parent letter that provides specific information about each of the skills and areas where students may need more assistance. Then, near the end of the first and second trimesters, we gave one of the remaining assessments and sent home the second parent letter. Finally, near the end of the school year, students took the fourth assessment and we sent home the last parent letter with recommendations and suggestions for the summer.
- The Student Workbook contains 32 Tune Ups. Every Friday we assigned the next Tune Up and students knew they had an entire week to complete it, to check their answers from the back of their workbook, and prepare to work with other students and the entire class on problems they found challenging. Because we included the answers when we printed the workbooks for our students, they knew they had to show their work on notebook paper in an organized way in order to receive full credit. You'll notice that about half of the Tune Ups focus on multi-digit computation, and the other half focus on basic facts fluency and mental math.
Thank you for honoring the many hours I spent developing these resources by using them for the benefit of your students, and letting other teachers know that they too can purchase them here at www.factswise.thinkific.com.
If you would like to know more about purchasing access to these materials for more than one user, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll be happy to give you discount pricing information.
Also, if you'd prefer to purchase Tuning Up ... Computationally with a purchase order, please send it to me at email@example.com. And, as always, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or want to share stories of how you're using this system with your students.
Mathematics Educator and FactsWise Creator
About the author
After Valerie completed her dissertation research at UC Irvine in 2004, she began a pilot project to investigate strategies for teaching basic facts that would go beyond flashcards, worksheets, and timed tests. By 2006, these strategies had been piloted, revised, and research demonstrated dramatic differences between control and FactsWise students.
Valerie balances her time as a lecturer in mathematics education at UC Irvine with her commitment to share what she has learned about how to help students develop basic facts fluency, part-whole thinking, and flexible number sense through FactsWise workshops.