This is a very exciting time of year in first grade. Many children make wonderful leaps of progress at this time. This is true in math as well as in our other subjects.

This week, I would like to give you a little more information about our approach toward addition and subtraction work at school.

We are using the Math Masters (or Rocket Math) program to build our ability to recall basic facts quickly and accurately. We also want to increase gradually the number of facts recalled in one minute.

For problem solving, we want the children to be able to apply multiple strategies. The screen shot below shows four addition strategies we have practiced in class.

This week, I would like to give you a little more information about our approach toward addition and subtraction work at school.

We are using the Math Masters (or Rocket Math) program to build our ability to recall basic facts quickly and accurately. We also want to increase gradually the number of facts recalled in one minute.

For problem solving, we want the children to be able to apply multiple strategies. The screen shot below shows four addition strategies we have practiced in class.

Some strategies are better suited for different problems. But the examples above give you a sense of how to apply them. For the problem, "8 +4", students could find the answer by:

* Counting on from the larger number. (In other words, don't waste time by counting from 1 to 8, then counting four more. Just start with the larger number and count from there.)

* Using a number line. Start with the larger number and make "hops" to add the smaller number. The number you land on is the answer.

* Drawing a picture. The best way to make this work is to draw a picture in groups of fives or tens, to easily be able to see the new total. In this example, we drew 8 circles and 4 triangles, starting with sets of 5. Then it is very easy to see that the total is 5 + 5 + 2 = 12.

* Use a related fact. Any useful fact can be applied to help solve a problem. Often doubles help. Often it is convenient to rearrange the numbers to make a set of 10, as shown above. When using this strategy for subtraction, the related fact might be the corresponding fact family fact. If I know that 8 + 4 = 12, then I know that 12 - 4 = 8.

We will continue to practice our computation skills in the second half of the year. Thank you for your continuing support of our work at home!

* Counting on from the larger number. (In other words, don't waste time by counting from 1 to 8, then counting four more. Just start with the larger number and count from there.)

* Using a number line. Start with the larger number and make "hops" to add the smaller number. The number you land on is the answer.

* Drawing a picture. The best way to make this work is to draw a picture in groups of fives or tens, to easily be able to see the new total. In this example, we drew 8 circles and 4 triangles, starting with sets of 5. Then it is very easy to see that the total is 5 + 5 + 2 = 12.

* Use a related fact. Any useful fact can be applied to help solve a problem. Often doubles help. Often it is convenient to rearrange the numbers to make a set of 10, as shown above. When using this strategy for subtraction, the related fact might be the corresponding fact family fact. If I know that 8 + 4 = 12, then I know that 12 - 4 = 8.

We will continue to practice our computation skills in the second half of the year. Thank you for your continuing support of our work at home!