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Math Journals used for math assessments of conceptual understanding

Need better data? Get ideas for quick and quality assessments.

Learn ways to build fluency without timed tests.

A laptop is shown with an equation. There are various fruits with numbers on them scattered on the screen. Students have to click on the fruit with the correct answer.

Some of my favorite websites for free game and tools. 

Exit Slips

Exit slips can be great as a formative assessment which means you use it to inform your teaching. You can do this 2 ways. First, you can give students an exit slip and then use that data to make guided math groups based on student ability. You could also use exit slips at the end of a lesson to determine if students are ready to move on the next day or if they need more instruction.


I love using journal prompts to get a window into my students’ conceptual understanding on key concepts. Even a simple prompt such as, “How can you solve 8+6?” can help you see if students are counting all, counting on, or using derived fact strategies. Plus, sharing their journals leads to great math discussions that are student led and help all students increase their understanding of topics.

Benchmark Tests

Ever wondered, “Have my students forgot how to….”? Well benchmark assessments are the perfect way to figure that out. They cover every standard for your grade level and can be given at any time of the year. I like to use them at the end of each quarter to make my targeted math intervention groups. I look at who missed what skill and group them so they get instruction on exactly what they need.

Fact Fluency

We all know fact fluency is key in math. “They have to know their facts,” is a common phrase uttered by teachers everywhere. Oftentimes we think of fact fluency as simply speed, but there are actually 3 components to fact fluency. Click on the questions below to learn more about how you can get your students to be fluent with their facts through best practice (hint: there are no timers involved).

A. Fluency means students are accurate, efficient, and flexible. Accuracy means students arrive at the correct answer. Efficient means they arrive at that answer relatively quickly with little struggle. Finally, the more important compoent, flexibility means that students can use different strategies depending on the problem. For example, students might count up to solve 5+2 and then use near doubles to solve 6+8. This flexibility is key to promoting fluency and is why teaching math strategies is so important. Read the definition of fluency from NCTM here.

A. There are 3 stages of fluency. First, students count to find answers. Next, they use derived strategies such as doubles and doubles plus 1 to answer facts. Finally, they can recall facts as they have memorized them. Click to learn more from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. NCTM Fact Fluency

A. We want to look at assessments that cover all 3 components: accuracy, efficiency, and flexibility. I like to pull students one at a time similar to when we do reading assessments. I will present them with different facts and record the strategies they use as well as the time it took them to answer the fact (I do not let students know I am keeping track of time to keep the pressure off). Here’s a math fact assessment you could use to get you started for Addition and Multiplication scroll down to page 9 for the assessment. 

I also love using journals to check in on their strategies. For example, “How would you solve 6+8?” can let me know if students are in the counting stage of fluency or if they are able to use fact strategies. 

Math Websites

Check out some of my favorite websites for FREE math games. These are perfect for centers or math warm ups as a whole class. My students LOVE when they get to play games on our interactive whiteboard during centers.

Games for basic facts, place value, telling time, geometry, fractions, and more! What I love most about these games is that most of them have different levels so I can easily differentiate for each group of students. Our all time favorite is Fruit Splat! Click the title above to start playing!

My students LIVE for Numskill and Numtanga. The games are just as fun to play as the names are to say. Numskill is great for recognizing fact families. NumTanga works on subitizing and different ways to represent numbers. Click the title above to start playing!

This is a free PDF that is a treasure trove of card games for kids. We play them in class and then I send home the directions so they can play at home, too. Check out some of our favorites on p. 31-33, 48-49, and 57-58. Click the title above to start playing!