Season 3, Episode 4

Ideas to build math fluency with Valerie Henry, Graham Fletcher, and Tracy Zager

Fluency in math can oftentimes be associated with negative experiences with its development— timed worksheets, for example. Bethany and Dan are joined by three guests to better understand fluency and how to make its approach fun. Dr. Val Henry shares her three-part definition of fluency and her five principles for developing it. Additionally, Tracy Zager and Graham Fletcher join Bethany and Dan to better understand fluency through a lens of equity and using multimedia as a tool.

Meet our guest(s):

Valerie Henry, Graham Fletcher, and Tracy Johnston Zager

Valerie Henry has been a math educator since 1986. She taught middle school math for 17 years and has worked as a lecturer at University of California Irvine since 2002. After doing her 2004 dissertation research on addition/subtraction fluency in first grade, Valerie created FactsWise, a daily mini-lesson approach that simultaneously develops fluency, number sense, and algebraic thinking. Additionally, she has provided curriculum and math professional development for K-12 teachers throughout her career, working with individual schools, districts, county offices of education, Illustrative Mathematics, the SBAC Digital Library, and the UCI Math Project.

Graham Fletcher has served in education as a classroom teacher, a math coach, and currently as a math specialist. He is continually seeking new and innovative ways to support students and teachers in their development of conceptual understanding in elementary mathematics. He is the author of Building Fact Fluency and openly shares many of his resources at

Tracy Johnston Zager is a district math coach who loves to get teachers hooked on listening to kids’ mathematical ideas. She is a co-author of the Building Fact Fluency toolkits and the author of Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had: Ideas and Strategies from Vibrant Classrooms. Tracy also edits professional books by teachers, for teachers at Stenhouse Publishers.

Meet our hosts: Bethany Lockhart Johnson and Dan Meyer

Bethany Lockhart Johnson is an elementary school educator and author. Prior to serving as a multiple-subject teacher, she taught theater and dance, and now loves incorporating movement and creative play into her classroom. Bethany is committed to helping students find joy in discovering their identities as mathematicians. In addition to her role as a full-time classroom teacher, Bethany is a Student Achievement Partners California Core Advocate and is active in national and local mathematics organizations. Bethany is a member of the Illustrative Mathematics Elementary Curriculum Steering Committee and serves as a consultant, creating materials to support families during distance learning.

Dan Meyer taught high school math to students who didn’t like high school math. He has advocated for better math instruction on CNN, Good Morning America, Everyday With Rachel Ray, and He earned his doctorate from Stanford University in math education and is currently the Dean of Research at Desmos, where he explores the future of math, technology, and learning. Dan has worked with teachers internationally and in all 50 United States and was named one of Tech & Learning’s 30 Leaders of the Future.

Transcripts and additional resources

Show notes:


“A lot of very fluent adults don't always have every fact memorized. ” —Val Henry