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Register for the Virtual Math Summit 2021

Look at the list of all the Virtual Math Summit speakers


Welcome fellow Recovering Traditionalists to Episode 98.  Today I’m sharing a bit about the Fluency Sessions at the Virtual Math Summit 2021.

Welcome to Build Math Minds the podcast, where fidelity to your students is greater than fidelity to your textbook. I’m your host, Christina Tondevold, the recovering traditionalist and Founder, where my mission is to change the way we teach elementary math to our kiddos. Are you ready to start building math minds and not just creating calculators? Let’s get started.

Every year, since 2017, I get the pleasure of hosting the Build Math Minds Virtual Math Summit. This year, the free summit for elementary educators will be taking place July 29th and 30th, 2021. Registration is now open.

All the sessions for the Virtual Math Summit are pre-recorded and then they go ‘live’ on those two days.  Many of the presenters will be there interacting with participants in the chat area and this year we even have an upgraded experience where you can ask questions of presenters during a few speaker panel Q & As. 

The Virtual Math Summit has always been free to attend for 10 days and I want to keep it that way.  But every year we hear from participants that the #1 thing they want is more time to watch the sessions.  So this year there are two ways you can do that.  As always, you can join the Build Math Minds PD site.  Members get access to this year’s virtual math summit sessions as well as past virtual math summit recordings.  Plus there are hundreds of elementary math PD videos inside the site along with other benefits you get from being a BMM member.  But not everyone wants all that stuff, so this year we do have a VIP access for the summit.  This allows you 30 days access to just this year’s virtual math summit sessions, plus a bonus session from me that isn’t released during the free virtual math summit, and you get attend the speaker panel Q & A sessions.  The VIP access is $19.95 and you can get registered at  If you don’t want VIP access or to join BMM, you can also just register for the free access on that page.  I’ll link it up over at

To get you excited about the Virtual Math Summit, I thought I’d share a few snippets from sessions to give you a sneak peek over the summer before the summit starts.  For this week’s episode, I pulled together 3 sessions in which the presenters are all discussing math fluency.

Our first sneak peek is from Art Baroody’s session From Number Sense to Fluency with Basic Combinations.  

Art has been one of my mentors and he didn’t even know it (until I recently reached out and told him).  He has researched and written so much about fact fluency and I’m honored to have him as a presenter.

Art Baroody: “Similarly, meaningfully memorizing the basic sums or differences makes their learning easier and in the long run produces better results, produces better retention, clarity and accuracy, transfer, and positive affect. Basically all the things that memorization by rote does not do.  Meaningful memorization is a gradual process.  In the case of the basic sums and differences the building process starts with number sense constructed in the preschool years.  Shown here is a partial learning trajectory with a meaningful memorization of the basic sums and differences.  The key point of this slide is that a child must master each of the first eight steps to achieve the meaningful memorization of sums to 18 and their related differences, that is step nine.  Consider step one the foundation for all other steps.  Immediate small number recognition, what is often called subitizing. Research indicates that kindergarteners who cannot subitize up to at least three, have little number sense.  For example little understanding of addition, they have low mathematics achievement, and they are unable to achieve fluency with basic addition facts.  Why?  A child who can supervise small numbers can immediately recognize the collection of blocks as two.  They can also see that if a block is added, there are now more blocks and the collection has increased to 3.  They can further see that if a block is then removed, they again have two blocks.  What might a child learn from repeatedly subitizing such events? It turns out, an awful lot.”

Up next is Rosalba Serrano and a piece from her session titled Fluency Practice with Multi-digit Addition and Subtraction = More than a Worksheet.

Rosalba has done a lot of trainings inside of the Build Math Minds PD site and I always love listening to her.  She has a take no crap attitude (and if you know Rosalba you know she would have said a different word there) and tells things like it is.  This session is no different.  She tells it like it should be about how we help kids build their fluency.

Rosalba Serrano: “ …and sometimes the drill and kill activities that we give students to practice facts, they’re not even worksheets. They’re masked in other ways.  Take a look here.  We go from flash cards to digital virtual games to drill & kill practice that really just has a little flap over them.  So we’re still doing the same thing, we’re just changing the visual for it.  

Here’s what I think we’re doing. I think our teaching is stuck in the Myspace era.  Remember Myspace from back in the day?!  Well these kids are in The TikTok era.  You know what boggles my mind?  When we gave these types of worksheets in basic fact practice that are those kinds of repetitive, low-level drill & kill sheets, is that we give them every single year from primary to upper elementary grades.  We see it in classroom after classroom, grade after grade, year after year.   But I want us to think about this, if those sheets actually worked, why would we have to do them every single year?  And why would we hear from middle school teachers ‘ugh, these kids are not coming in knowing their basic facts.’  It just doesn’t work.  We have to find different ways and strategies to address fluency and that starts with us having an understanding of what fluency really means.  

Fluency in mathematics, like fluency in language, requires us to use some decision-making skills when determining how to solve a problem.  Fluency involves more than just memorization, more than just adopting an algorithm.  Fluency should entail higher order thinking skills.  So this is where we see a student analyze a problem, consider possible solutions to it, choose an effective strategy as well, and obviously execute the problem correctly.  So when it comes to decision making it is crucial when it comes to fluency that means we have to expose our students to different strategies that they get to choose from when solving a problem.  And like you, I am a great believer in conceptual understanding.  Fluency is dependent on conceptual understanding and for far too long we focus on the procedural piece of it but we really need to embed the conceptual understanding as well.  We have to understand as educators that this is where conceptual understanding and procedural understanding for fluency are intertwined and we also have to learn how these strategies grow from our basic fact strategies.  So for example 8 and 9 more, that should extend to and that should evolve to 238 + 399.  We’re supposed to take one and help it evolve to the other.  So let’s give all our students the knowledge and the power to become skilled and confident mathematical thinkers and doers.” 

Our final sneak peek comes from Marria Carrington’s session about The Power of Intentional Sequences to Build Fluency in Addition and Subtraction Within 100.

Marria is part of the group Math Recovery.  The research that group has put out about helping young learners understand math is amazing.  In this session Marria shares a lot of clips of working with students and gives you the sequences of tasks that they use to help kids build their fluency within 100.  

Marria Carrington: “We’ve taken the time to unpack each of these puzzle pieces. First was the Conceptual Place Value.  Being able to increment and decrement by tens, both on and off the decuple.   This is a key foundation to kids being able to work with addition & subtraction within 100.  Secondly,  structuring within 20.  You’ve been working on that already before you shifted to within 100.  Choose settings that will help kids make that connection, like the ten frames.  You don’t want kids reverting to counting by ones once they go outside of 20. And thirdly, we spent a lot of time today on the higher decade addition & subtraction.  Building those 6 sequences before you get to double digit addition and subtraction.  We have to unpack each of those and help kids see those connections.  

Another important piece we talked about today is Distancing That Setting.  Starting from kids seeing the items, visibly, to then maybe a flash and screening so the items are there for them to check and then you move to that verbal or written piece.  This is a key idea in terms of supporting students to seeing the connections to the quantities but also Distancing The Setting so that they make those connections when the setting is no longer there and they are just seeing the verbal, or written, symbolic piece.

Again our work today is based on the research by Dr. Bob Wright and we will be giving away this book in our giveaway as well as a virtual slide deck like the slide decks Dina was using in her presentation about decuples and we have the dot and frame card pack.  Which includes both five-frames, ten-frames, and twenty-frames and this will support your work in structuring within 20 as well as you’ll want to get some mini-ten frames to do the work within 100.”

So if you want to watch their entire presentations and get entered into that fabulous drawing Marria is doing, make sure you go get registered for the summit.

Art Baroody, Rosalba Serrano, and Marria Carrington’s sessions are just some of the great sessions we have in store for you during the Virtual Math Summit 2021.  You can find the entire list of speakers at  I’m excited to have the opportunity this year to ask some of the presenters questions during the speaker panel Q & A sessions that are available for the VIP registrants and members of the Build Math Minds PD site.  I know that after watching these sessions I’ve got questions I can’t wait to ask.

If you want to attend the 2021 Virtual Math Summit, go to to register for free or upgrade to the VIP or BMM so that you can join me in those speaker panel Q & As. I’ll also link to it over at the show notes page at

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As you start off the school year, I want you to keep in mind what is really important as we're trying to teach mathematics to our students.