11 Strategies for Accelerating Math Fluency

  • Big Ideas Learning Consultants

A recent report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), shows unprecedented learning loss across the country.

For the first time, in the history of the report, mathematics scores dropped nearly seven points when compared to pre-pandemic assessment data. Moving forward educators must find ways to integrate accelerated learning strategies into their classrooms.

Here are 11 easy-to-implement, high-level strategies to simplify your lesson planning and address learning loss in the classroom.


1. Creating "Chunks"

“Chunk” up new information into small, digestible pieces. Breaking lessons into bite-sized content and knowing when to pause takes some practice, but you’ll be surprised how well the strategy works.

To guide you in your lesson planning, consider how people like to digest information. Break your lessons into the 5Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why (and How), follow the “Rule of Three,” or match your students' attention spans and teach topics in 10 to 15 minutes intervals.


2. Scaffold Your Lessons

Once you have your lesson turned into chunks, you’ll guide your students through the learning process.  Instructional scaffolding requires teachers to provide successive yet lessening levels of support until students can independently complete the task and conceptually understand the topic.

Secondly, scaffolding facilitates student understanding by connecting previous knowledge with new concepts. Help your students with new course material by:


  • Giving students a vocabulary lesson before a reading
  • Working through an assignment as a class
  • Connect previous lessons with current lessons


3. Involve the Senses

Multisensory instruction is often reserved for children with learning disabilities, but it works well across the board. The goal should be to engage students by stimulating multiple senses. When planning your lessons, consider having students interact with math by using the following senses:



  • Create posters and draw pictures
  • Use colors to highlight main ideas
  • Make graphic organizers


  • Listen to you read aloud
  • Listen to music
  • Make up rhymes & mnemonic devices 


  • Spell with sand trays or shaving cream
  • Model ideas with clay
  • Use manipulatives for math problems


  • Play games that involve movement
  • Race with flashcards
  • Toss a bean bag to answer a question


4. Use Mind Maps 

A mind map is a brainstorming tool that connects prior knowledge and encourages students to draw out their thought processes using a visual diagram. The map can be used to represent tasks, words, concepts, and items, all of which link back to a central idea.

This strategy is perfect for students who struggle with identifying key concepts and studying for exams. What’s more, students may find mind maps helpful in understanding lengthier word problems and using different mathematical formulas.


5. Use Memory Aids

Several memory aids such as songs, rhymes, and even name mnemonics may be helpful in increasing a student’s math fluency. For example, a familiar name mnemonic in mathematics is “PEMDAS,” which you probably know stands for “Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication and Division, Addition and Subtraction.” Some teachers also use “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” to help students memorize the order of operations.

Name mnemonics are helpful; however, they shouldn't be too heavily relied upon as students' ultimate goal should be fluency and conceptual understanding, not memorization.


6. Get out of the Classroom

Students are often excited about leaving their typical learning environment. A field trip can provide an immersive experience that fosters new ways of thinking, builds connections between seemingly disparate pieces of information, and highlights real-world application.

Museums, art galleries, zoos, and planetariums are great places to visit. Students can count objects and animals, look for symmetry in objects, estimate distances, reference scales on a map, and even plan travel routes.


7. Facilitate Group Discussions

Group discussions allow students to share what they have learned or what they already know with their peers. More importantly, these discussions allow students to ask questions and consider different answers and explanations.

In order to be effective, group discussions should be held in-person and facilitated by an educator as opposed to being online and in a read-and-reply format. Student contributions should be positively reinforced, even if they do not arrive at the correct answer.


8. Guide Classroom Reading

Prior knowledge and vocabulary are determining factors in how well students understand the material at hand. Before moving forward in any lesson, educators should make sure that students grasp all terminology, given that math builds on terms students should already be familiar with as they advance grade levels. Educators can build a student's vocabulary by using guided reading strategies, including introducing the text and analyzing specific passages or keywords.


9. Tell a Story

Storytelling is a technique in which an educator converts a mathematical problem into an emotional and interactive dramatization of events. The goal of storytelling is to increase a student’s enthusiasm for the mathematical problem at hand; it also incites discussion and plays on a student’s listening skills.

Rajaa Albool, teaching and research assistant at Birzeit University, found that students who used storytelling methods increased their ability to solve mathematics problems on a mathematics achievement test.


10. Watch a Video

Supplement your lessons with video content! It’s a great way to enhance learning and engage students. However, not all video content is created the same. Be sure what you’re showing your students is:


  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Short
  • Simple
  • Accessible from home


Further, you'll want to ensure that videos clearly signal what information is important and relevant by using auditory and visual cues. For example, colored arrows pointing to key text are shown to have a positive effect on comprehension.


11. Play Games

Interactive classroom games are another method of accelerating learning. Many options get students excited about learning, from flashcard races and life-sized number lines to Bingo and Jeopardy! Whether online or in-person, games increase engagement and associate learning with feelings of positivity; they also tend to encourage team building, social interaction, and responsibility. 


Increasing Your Student's Fluency

As you move through the school year, consider using one or more of these strategies in the classroom to enhance your students’ math fluency and help accelerate learning for all students.


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