October 22, 2018
By April Brown

Lesson plan

Building My maths Fluency

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Do you need extra help for EL students? Try the Thinking About Three-Digit NumbersPre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
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Do you need extra help for EL students? Try the Thinking About Three-Digit NumbersPre-lesson.

Students will be able to explore and build on familiar mathematical strategies to increase fluency when adding multi-digit numbers with and without regrouping.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(10 minutes)
  • Read aloud the short passage to students. Make sure you read the passage fluently (with expression, accuracy, and appropriate pace).
  • Ask the students if they were able to understand what you read. Have the students turn and talk to a partner, sharing their answer.
  • Read the passage aloud again. This time read with little expression, stumbling over words, and super fast.
  • Write the word "fluency" on the board. Have students turn and talk to a partner, this time explaining what they think the word fluency means.
  • Allow a few students to share out.
  • Clarify that the word fluency, when talking about reading fluency, means reading a text accurately, quickly, and with expression.
  • Tell the students that today they will be learning about Maths fluency! On the whiteboard, write the following definition of maths fluency:
    • Maths fluency is...
      1. The ability to use different strategies to solve maths problems accurately.
      2. Changing your strategy along the way if something is not working.
      3. Understanding the strategy you used so well that you can explain how you solved the problem.
(10 minutes)
  • Project the maths Fluency Checklist on the whiteboard. Say, "This is a checklist that we can use to help us think about how we are solving maths problems. Thinking about our thinking allows us to reflect on strategies that we know work and other strategies that we can learn that might help us. Some maths problems are easy for us, and others are more difficult. When we learn and use different strategies, we can increase our maths fluency!"
  • Bring out the notecards with multi-digit addition problems written on them. Put the notecards face down on the table. Ask a student to choose a card and have the student write the problem on the whiteboard in front of the class.
  • Use the maths Fluency Checklist to guide you as you solve the problem. Say, "I know a strategy I can use to solve the problem! A StrategyIs a plan of action to solve a problem! I'm going to use ____(insert strategy)."
  • Solve the problem using the strategy you chose. Model struggling with the strategy, and ask the students to help. Model how to regroup and say the following simple chant, "If it's 10 or up, I must regroup! RegroupingIn addition means changing the ones into tens to make adding easier." When you are finished, colour in the box of the strategy you used, or write a different strategy in the blank box. Different strategies may include paper and pencil, breaking the problem apart by place value, whiteboards and markers, or mental maths.
(20 minutes)
  • Erase the problem and rewrite it again on the whiteboard. Choose another strategy and model solving the problem using this strategy. Examples include getting out the Place Value Mat: Three- Digit Addition and place value blocks, using sticky notes under each place value to help your eyes visually separate each column, or circling each place value with a different colored marker.
  • Encourage a student to come up to the front of the room to help you solve the problem and model using the maths Fluency Checklist. Have the student colour in the box of the second strategy you used, or write the strategy in the blank box.
  • In the last section of the maths Fluency Checklist, write how you solved your maths problem and sketch a picture of the strategy you used (e.g. draw a picture of a sticky note, a highlighter, a pencil, blocks, etc).
  • Put students in pairs and provide access to many different resources to help students solve the problem. Resources include the Place Value Mat: Three-Digit Numbers worksheet, highlighters, blocks, sticky notes, whiteboards, place value blocks, etc. Pass out a copy of the maths Fluency Checklist to each pair.
  • Write a different multi-digit addition problem on the board. Have students solve the problem with their partners, using the maths Fluency Checklist to support their problem solving and maths fluency.
  • Allow a few students to share their strategies aloud with the class.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask students to go back to their desks, and pass out the Addition Within 1000 Check-in worksheet, one copy of the maths Fluency Checklist per student, and gluesticks.
  • Instruct students to paste the maths Fluency Checklist in their maths journal. Explain to the students that first they will choose one of the maths problems on the paper. Next, they will fill out the maths Fluency Checklist according to two strategies they used to solve that particular problem. When they are finished with the maths Fluency Checklist, they will solve the other problems on the paper, using the strategies that worked best for them!
  • Remind students they can use any of the resources they used earlier to solve the problems.
  • Rotate around the classroom and support students as needed.


  • Provide students with more challenging multi-digit addition problems.
  • Put students in pairs and encourage them to think of different strategies they could use to solve the same maths problem.
  • Have students play the Multi-Digit Addition Game: Mad Scientist Edition with a peer and provide access to resources to help them solve the problems.


  • Allow students to work with a partner during independent work time.
  • Have students focus on one strategy in depth instead of two.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask students to stand up and find a partner they have not yet worked with. Have them bring their checklists and worksheets.
  • Encourage students to choose a new problem from their worksheet and explain how to solve it to their partner, using their maths Fluency Checklist for support. Make sure they have access to the resources they used in the beginning of the lesson.
  • Rotate around the room and observe students as they explain their strategies. Observe student confidence and maths fluency. Take notes and use them as a formative assessment.
  • Collect student checklists and worksheets to use for future planning on building maths fluency.
(5 minutes)
  • Have students do a think-pair-share, responding to two of the following question stems:
    • What is maths fluency?
    • How does learning new strategies increase maths fluency?
    • What was the strategy that worked best for you today?

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