Fluency Through Flexibility (Book Review)

A few weeks ago "Fluency through Flexibility: How to Build Number Sense" showed up on my doorstep. I devoured the introduction and was immediately taken with the straight forward, research based, easy to follow nature of the text. I was hooked.

So often, when reading a professional text, I agree and understand the premise of the book but struggle with merging that information with the demands of district curriculum or a given "program". Sound familiar? This text built my knowledge around building number sense and then provided a variety of activities I could implement tomorrow through quick activities for small groups or the whole class. If you teach intervention groups, these activities are PERFECT for RtI.


To give you some background around the basic purpose for the book; The author states: 
"This book is built on the premise that if we spend time in the early grades letting children explore and develop their informal knowledge, it will build a child's number sense and increase their flexibility when working with numbers, then fluency will actually occur faster. Plus, by developing a sense of relationship between number, children will be able to transfer that number sense when working with multi-digit numbers as well. 

Love it. Get it. But, what next? How do we "Develop a sense of relationships between numbers" in an organized, research based effective way? The book outlines the 4 relationships which are most beneficial to student's number sense development. 
  • Spatial Relationships
  • One/Two More and Less
  • Benchmarks of 5 and 10
  • Part-Part-Whole
Following a thorough discussion of each relationship, it's importance in building number sense, and how an understanding of this relationship will allow students to form a foundation for further math understanding, the author provides 15 activities that you can do in order to promote student's knowledge of this relationship. 



The book is in black and white. I am quite the active reader :)
 Each activity is laid out with a quick description of materials, steps, what to watch for in your students and ideas for reusing the activity in the future at a higher level or in a different way.

One last feature I appreciate about this book is the interview style assessments provided in the appendix of the book. A separate interview has been included for each section of the book.

This text has helped to guide me in my math RtI first grade groups in a number of ways. First, I feel confident in using the activities because they are research based. The book is littered with references and I know that if an administrator walked into my math group that I would be able to justify the work with my RtI students. Also, in structuring a 30 minute group, I am able to choose activities from the 4 sections of the book that work together and build upon one another. For example, in a group earlier this week, I did the Story Time activity from the spatial relationships section of the book. The activity focused on representing numbers in a counting story. While students were focused on representing numbers on a ten frame, the activity also touched on the relationship of "one more". Following the story, we capitalized on the "one more" nature of the previous activity to move into an activity from the One/Two More & Less section called Ten Train where students rolled a +1/+2 dice to build a tower from 1 to 10. Planning a research based lesson that builds in a logical manner was VERY easy using this text.

If you are interested in looking into the text for yourself, it is available on the website "Mathematically Minded" which is linked in the picture of the cover above as well as HERE.


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1 comment

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