Students Build Confidence and Proficiency with Reflex and Frax
Adrianne Houser understands the critical need for fact fluency and student confidence in math. She works with students who demonstrate a need for Tier 2 or Tier 3 instructional support in mathematics at Grandville East Elementary, classified as a Title I school in Grandville, MI.
Houser first heard about ExploreLearning Reflex in 2019 and ExploreLearning Frax in 2021. She was interested in Reflex as a resource for developing math fact fluency through the program’s use of fact families to build flexible thinking around inverse operations. “On top of those features, I could see that it was designed to increase engagement through gamified practice. I suspected the kids would enjoy that aspect,” she said.
After trying the program with select students and seeing their success over a short period of time, Houser proposed utilizing Reflex to improve math fact fluency throughout the entire student body at her school. She noted, “Reflex has been the most effective resource I have found to bridge the gap between sound computational strategies and automaticity.”
Teachers see proficiency growth
Classrooms in Grandville East Elementary have 90-minute math blocks each day when most teachers incorporate a workshop model. This structure makes incorporating Reflex or Frax manageable for grades three and above. And teachers already see results! During the 2021-22 school year, benchmark proficiency in overall math increased by sixteen percentage points, and benchmark proficiency in numbers and operations increased by nine percentage points. Houser noted, “We are on track to see similar results for the 2022-23 school year.”
That’s just part of the story! Automatic retrieval of basic facts had prevented them from being successful with more complex math tasks. According to Houser, “Several students receiving Tier 2 math intervention no longer required additional support after reaching a proficient level of fact fluency. Once the fact fluency was solid, the other concepts became manageable.” Students who used to avoid answering aloud in class began to volunteer solutions and strategies after improving their fact fluency through Reflex.
Strong instructional design
“My favorite part of Reflex is that it has a strong instructional component and leverages fact families to build automaticity. This feature builds flexible thinking around inverse operations and sets students up for success with more complex calculations,” said Houser. “Students are experiencing greater success with multi-digit computation in grades 4-6 because their cognitive load is not being drained solving basic fact calculations.”
Because Reflex teaches facts in families, students learn to utilize the relationship between inverse operations in more complex tasks. Houser’s students have mastered extended facts and leveraged those for multi-digit multiplication and division using the area model and partial quotients strategies. “Reflex is different from other programs I have used because the students enjoy it. They are more invested in becoming proficient with this tool compared to other things I have tried,” she said.
Houser’s students are enthusiastic about the games in Reflex and excited to open new ones. “I appreciate that student milestones are focused on multiple aspects of growth,” she noted. “All students have the opportunity to celebrate their growth.”
After utilizing Reflex for just three weeks, one student who had previously struggled with math fact fluency volunteered an answer to the class. “Oh, 6x4 is 24. I learned that in Reflex!”
Houser made a positive difference by bringing Reflex to her building! A solid foundation in math fact fluency has improved student confidence school-wide and made previously challenging topics easier to acquire. A student with experienced low math confidence told her, “I’m good at math. I have like 90% in Reflex.”
Adrianne Houser has a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership. She analyzes student growth and achievement in math as well as designs and delivers tiered instructional support to students in grades K-6 at Grandville East Elementary in Grandville, MI. In addition to her instructional responsibilities, she champions the implementation of building-wide math initiatives that are proven to increase student confidence and foster a positive math identity.
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