As Dr. Anita Archer says, aside from teaching, the most important thing a teacher does is monitor students as they are working. This is doubly true during Rocket Math. Far from being a time to sit down while the students are happily engaged in “doing Rocket Math,” this is a time when it is imperative that the teacher must be up moving around and listening to the quality of the practice. Walking around the room to see that everyone appears to be on task is the minimum, but really stopping to listen to the students is the gold standard in monitoring. (Me, I have to squat down or bend over to be able to hear clearly.)
During Rocket Math the teacher should be tuning in and listening to pairs of students as they practice to be sure of several things. (1) Is the student saying the entire problem and the answer each time? (2) Is the student audible to the checker? (3) Is the checker tracking with his/her finger so you can tell if they are following along? (4) Is the checker correcting hesitations, as well as errors? [Give public praise, perhaps after the practice session to every checker you heard correct a hesitation–that’s a really big deal!] (5) Does the checker follow the three step correction?
The teacher cannot know whether or not practice is being done correctly without careful monitoring and listening to the pair of students as they practice. Praise the pair if they are doing it right. Then move on to another pair and monitor them. Keep moving to as many pairs of students as you can during the two to three minutes of oral practice.
By the way, look out for students who go once around and stop! This is supposed to be an endless task. That is why the problems now go in a circle around the outside so the students know to go on to a second lap if they can. The best teachers institute a signal (fist in the air for example) that shows which students have made it to the second lap during the practice time. That should be a badge of honor. It often means that the student has no hesitations on any of the newer facts and will be likely to pass that day. But hard work and diligent working–enough to get to a second lap should be rewarded in any case.
If the teacher finds that students are NOT practicing and correcting as they should it is time to go back to the beginning and model for students how they should practice and correct. More on that in another blog. For now, just be sure to monitor, monitor, monitor during Rocket Math.