Trying to teach reading by the light of a shared candle

How can a teacher run a math fact fluency program with access to only a couple of computers?

Asa asks:
Don, My school doesn’t currently have a fluency program in place and I’d really like to implement one as I think it’s a real need for my kids. I have 65 5th grade students. I don’t have access to technology on a 1 to 1 basis in my classroom. I have a couple of computers and a few ipads. Where would be good place for me to start?

Dr. Don answers:
Hi Asa,  What you describe is like trying to teach reading by the light of a shared candle! Until you have computers (or iPads) for everyone, using computer based programs to provide facts practice won’t work! A paper-and-pencil program is really much more realistic.
The paper-and-pencil version of Rocket Math works really well. Because students work with each other in partner practice they enjoy it. The daily one-minute timings are a good challenge, and the fact that they only have to learn two facts on each set means within a few days they can pass a set. Filling in the Rocket Chart from the bottom up gives them a sense of accomplishment and they learn an important life lesson–that studying and practicing can help you learn!
For one teacher the cost of a Basic annual subscription is $29, so it’s not too expensive to start.

Listen to the Rocket Math in a Nutshell presentation on our home page for a good quick idea of how this runs. Next print out and read the Teacher Directions from our Free Resources page here. Then when you have a clear idea what you’ve got to do, go ahead and get the Basic Subscription. You’ll be glad you did.

Oh, in case you don’t see this word of advice, with fifth graders start everyone on multiplication (even if they are counting on their fingers.) Fifth graders who aren’t fluent with the basic facts are a case for triage!!  If they never memorize another operation other than multiplication they might be able to make it through fractions and other pre-algebra topics if they know multiplication facts–so that is the place to start.

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