May 3, 2012
Case Study: An Interview with Mary Armstrong, Math Instructional Facilitator, Arkansas
Mary Armstrong, NBCT, has taught in Arkansas for 32 years, and is certified in Special Education, Gifted and Talented, and Elementary Education. Armstrong has a Master's degree in Gifted and Talented and in Educational Theory and Practice. She has been a Math Instruction Facilitator for 7 years, and currently teaches at Robert L Davis Elementary School in Arkansas.
How did you first hear about Reflex and what made you try it with your students?
Fact fluency has been a major concern for RL Davis for the past 5 years. We have tried games, flashcards and using CGI word problems. All of them helped some, but we were not getting lasting fluency. The students were relying on memorization, or counting on or counting all. They did not have a tool kit to help them solve facts.
So when we heard about Reflex at NTCM, we went directly to the ExploreLearning booth. We knew Gizmos were really effective, so Reflex would be as well. We were right.
How do you use Reflex with your students?
Reflex has given the teachers information to pinpoint what strategies students are utilizing and what fact groups they are mastering. Teachers are using the information to build math groups, develop problem types and number choices. All of our classes have 6-7 netbooks. Teachers use these as a center to allow students 20 minutes at least every other day in addition to weekly computer lab, so some classes are able to be on the program 4 days out of 5.
If you have used other programs to help students develop math fact fluency, how does Reflex compare?
Our other main math technology is Compass. I don't think they even compete. Other computer-based technology we use are web based games, and they do no tracking or coaching. Nothing is even close to what Reflex will do for the kids.
Can you tell us about the results you have experienced so far?
In combination with the Common Core, we think it’s imperative that our students recall their math facts in at least 4 seconds. We tested every child in first and second grade before and after using Reflex and have had amazing results. We do action research that involves face-to-face interviews with every student. Reflex has made these interviews far simpler. If they are doing well on Reflex, we know they are doing well with their fluency. If they are having trouble, Reflex tells us the facts we have to concentrate on. Number sense is a big part of the Common Core. Reflex helps our students really break down numbers.
What has motivated your students to continue using Reflex?
They love the games and going to the store. The tokens are a big hit. They feel so proud of themselves.
Do you think Reflex offers a solid foundation for moving to higher math?
Yes I do. And it’s not just born out in the Reflex reports. I witness it in practice. I see the ease with which they pull up their facts and break down problems. They did not have this kind of recall last year.
Tell us how you have used the reporting facility and about your favorite reports?
We are looking at our fact reports at the end of the 1st semester. The growth has been unbelievable. I meet with every grade level teacher each month. The very first thing we go over is Reflex data. I see fact fluency in practice as I travel from class to class working with our students. The kids are verbalizing strategies and using common language, of counting on, recognizing doubles and doubles plus one and making ten.
What evidence do you have that Reflex is making a difference for your students?
We are seeing the effect as we assess not only fact fluency, but fluency of operations and use of math properties. As we know, fact fluency impacts nearly all Operations in Algebra and Numbers in Base Ten. Our teachers are completely behind Reflex because they are seeing an amazing change in our students math skills, and much of it can be traced back to the understanding of fact fluency as taught and practiced in Reflex.
Do you have any other comments or statements that you’d like to make about Reflex?
Part of our success is the leadership in the building. I shared the usage of Reflex with the principal, Mrs. Beasley, back in late September. We addressed the usage report in our Professional Learning Communities. The teachers all heard from the principal that she expected to see the program being utilized since we purchased it with supply money. And, those principals not currently using Reflex are all very eager to start.
To see the great results at Robert L Davis Elementary School and elsewhere, check out our Reflex Case Studies.