If students (and parents) are really frustrated, Rocket Math is not being done the right way.
How should Rocket Math be done?
- * Students should be practicing orally two or three minutes each day in school .
- * Students should be practicing again at home for another two or three minutes.
- * SOME students who need it, should be getting a second practice session during the day at school.
- * When practicing the students should be saying the facts aloud and the answers.
- * Students should be practicing with a partner who has an answer key.
- * Partners should do the correction procedure if the student hesitates on any of the facts they are practicing.
- * This practice should occur every day–not just once or twice a week.
With good practice several days running any child can learn those two new facts to automaticity and should be able to write the answers to those facts without hesitation–as fast as he or she can read the facts and write the answers. This is the point of Rocket Math and it works when done properly. How could this go wrong? Here are some things to look for that are WRONG!
- * Testing only without the daily oral practice. Teachers sometimes prefer just giving tests and think this will accomplish the same thing, but it doesn’t. The learning occurs during the practice sessions with the partner. Without orally practicing students are not all going to progress as well as they should, and some will become very frustrated.
- * Students who have bad habits that interfere with their ability to write quickly, such as erasing answers, counting on their fingers, looking at the clock, skipping around or writing answers in complicated patterns.
- * Setting goals faster than students can actually write. (How this happens I haven’t a clue, but it does.) Students know the facts without hesitation but can’t write as fast as their goals demand. If they have practiced well for a few days and they can orally answer the facts without hesitation–giving 40 or more answers orally in one minute–reset their goals to what they have been doing and let them move on. Students don’t have to pass every day, but they should pass within six days.
Remember, the point is for students to practice the two new math facts on the sheet and add them to the ones they already know. As long as students can answer facts without hesitation (after reading the fact aloud they have the answer already in mind) then they know their facts well enough. This should not be driving anyone crazy and if we do it right it is fun and enjoyable–even though it is work.