* A is for automaticity

stopwatch-153398_640I have joined the A-Z blogging challenge which started on April 1 and will have to write quickly to catch up!

What is automaticity?  I had to “add to dictionary” the first time I used that term in a document.  It’s a buzz word for over-learning, for knowing something so well that a response is automatic.  Automaticity is my goal for students when I use an Orton-Gillingham-based approach in reading and when I am teaching math just as systematically.  Automaticity means the brain isn’t searching for an answer.  There’s no desperate search for categories or associations.  When a fact, definition, or idea is recalled rapidly, the brain is free to devote its working memory to other tasks.  If letter sounds are not automatic, for example, you might hear a student reading word by word, pausing to decode the next word before saying it.  Or students might forget where they are in a multiple step math process as they struggle to recall a division fact.

Some folks believe that there is currently too much emphasis upon timed fluency, which is one measure of automaticity.  The use of one minute assessments is not my focus here.  To me, it’s commonsense to help students achieve automaticity in academics.  It’s our brain’s preferred mode.  We can move smoothly past the “mundane” to more interesting problem solving when we can respond automatically to many prompts.

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