## The Dolch Words of Math

As  quiet as it’s kept, there are theories about teaching math.  People research it.  They develop theories about it.  One of the best kept secrets is that Math has Dolch Words (Newton, 2008).  In Language arts we talk about the necessity that students know their dolch words- words that they must know in order to read fluently.  Same with math.  Van De Walle (http://www.ablongman.com/vandewalleseries/) has outlined some of these “words.” Our children need to know the basic facts (there are 100 addition and 100 subtraction ones) like the back of their hand.  Basic facts are all the facts from 0 through 18. There is a way to teach them (according to math theory). In our guided math groups, different groups of students will be working on different types of facts.  Just as in reading, everybody isn’t studying the same words. Some kids know all the words from list 1, they might be on list 5.  Same with math.

We want our students to understand what addition and subtraction means (to have conceptual understanding).  It is just as important that they have procedural fluency (automaticity and fluency) as well as problem solving skills. The “dolch words” gives teachers a frame to ensure that students learn all the facts so they are fluent by the time they start multiplying and dividing.  The upper elementary students have trouble with math because they don’t know their basic addition and subtraction “dolch words.” Here’s a list of the most common “math dolch words”- facts students should know so they do math with automaticity:

• +0 facts
• +1 facts
• +2 Facts
• complements of 5
• complements of 10
• doubles
• doubles +1
• doubles +2
• lucky 7
• lucky 8 facts
• lucky 9 facts
• -0 facts
• -1 facts
• easy subtraction facts using known facts
• harder subtraction facts – adding up to subtract

What do you do in your classroom to track student’s progress  with the “dolch words” of math?  Do your student’s have any concept of what they have learned and what they still need to study?  In what ways do you think some sort of individualized tracking system might help them in learning their basic facts?

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