From: Paul Smith
To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Subject: don't forget flashcards!
It may seem like ancient history, but a small, reduced stack of about 10 challenging flash cards (not 2+1, etc.), used on a daily basis for no more than 4 or 5 minutes, is a great reinforcer. Kids get overwhelmed with an entire stack and can get frustrated having to sit ten or more minutes trying to get the answers right so they can be "released". Used sparingly and with a dash of humor and laughing, flash cards can be a fun, interactive way lock in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Stay away from extrinsic rewards (candy, TV, etc.) and try to encourage intrinsic rewards ("You're getting faster and faster!" or "Wow! I didn't think you'd get that one." Flash cards can turn into a great way to build up self-esteem and confidence. There's been so much research that now there's a lot of creative ways to teach arithmitic. Much emphasis has been put on providing a visual/physical understanding of how these operations work. These are very important and will be critical as a child tackles more complex levels of Math, but I believe that the ability to immediately shoot out an answer to "What is 9 minus 4?" relies primarily on memory recall, and the best way to commit such a recall is with visual saturation.
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