Use Rocket Math Worksheet Program or Online Game or both for math fact fluency?

Rocket Math now has added an Online Game to its tried-and-true Worksheet Program.  Customers ask, “Which should I use?  Should I use both?”

Dr. Don’s answer is “Yes, I do recommend using both.  As that opinion may appear self-serving, here’s why.”

1) Online Game is an easier route to math fact fluency.

Most students begin passing levels in the Online Game right away.  They find it quicker and easier and can sometimes pass more than one level in a day.  This gives the students a taste of success.  The Online Game helps them realize they can learn facts and make progress almost from the first day.  Students are then more willing to do the Worksheet Program as well.  Rarely, there are a few younger students who cannot input answers within 3 seconds.  They won’t be able to pass levels and will have to start over many times on the Online Game.  When monitoring them in the Online Game, such students will have difficulty scores over 3.  If that’s the case, the Worksheet Program is more flexible and they may prefer that.  But for most students, with difficulty scores below 2 in the Online Game, they will require a lot less practice to pass levels with the Online Game than in the Worksheet Program.

2) Start with the easier implementation of the Online Game.

The Online Game is easier for teachers to get started using.  Teachers don’t have to print out worksheets, maintain files and organize student pairs so they actually practice with the Online Game.  It is therefore easier to implement.  Less than enthusiastic teachers, who might not start Worksheet Program, will at least start doing the Online Game. After they see the success of the Online Game and students’ enthusiasm, they will then be more willing to do Worksheet Program.

3) Online Game is easier for parents to support.

Both Worksheet Program and Online Game can be done at home.  The Worksheet Program’s homework component is for students to bring home the worksheet on which they tested that day, and practice with a parent or sibling, the same way they practiced in school.  That takes someone’s time.  The Online Game only requires access to a device, and once the student logs in, the computer does the correcting and rewarding.  So the Online Game is easier for parents to do and so gets a foot in the door.  Once they see their child’s success and enthusiasm, then parents are then more willing to do Worksheet Program as well. Which will provide more and better learning.

4) Worksheet Program more rigorously develops math fact fluency.

Two students participating in one of Rocket Math's math fluency programsCompared to the Online Game, the Worksheet Program is a bit harder to pass a level.  Students have to practice with their partner more time before they pass, so students learn facts better with it. They are more solid in their knowledge of facts when they are done with an operation like multiplication in the Worksheet Program than they are if they just run through multiplication in the Online Game.  Which is a reason not to do the Online Game only.  Of course, students are even stronger in their facts when they practice with both.

5) Worksheet Program will generalize to computation more readily.

The purpose of learning math facts is to make it easier for students to learn and do basic computation.  Math work is written, so the Worksheet Program (which is also written) is closer to how math facts will be used.  That means the Worksheet Program will generalize better to computation assignments.  You will see a bigger benefit to students doing math assignments when they finish the Worksheet Program than with the Online Game.  Which is yet another reason to do both programs.

6) Doing both develops math fact fluency twice.

Because students are moving through the two programs at different rates, they get two passes at learning the facts.  That means they are getting twice as much learning.  The facts will be known better and more readily called to mind during computation when both programs are done.

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