Rocket Math without timed tests
Some students have a lot of test anxiety around timed tests. They become anxious and visibly tense up on timed tests. They actually get worse instead of better when being timed. Parents and special education teachers hate to see that and often want to give up on teaching math facts. Rather than give up, you can use the Rocket Math worksheets without doing any timing. You don’t have to have your student work against the timer. If the student is doing everything right during the practice with you, then whatever he or he gets to after six days of practice, will be good enough. Tell your student,
“Stop worrying, we aren’t going to do the timed tests anymore.”
Your student should continue to practice by saying the facts aloud with the answers while you’re correcting any hesitations. Corrections consist of you interrupting and saying the fact and the answer aloud, having the student say the fact and the answer aloud three times, backing up three problems and going at it again. Have your student do that practice until they have gone around the outside twice instead of for a set amount of time.
After practicing around the outside, and before writing on the inside “One-Minute Test,” have your student also practice orally with you for all of the problems in the One Minute test. Use the same correction procedure.
The One-Minute test does not need to be timed.
Then each day, in place of the timed test, do this. Let your student complete the sheet (the whole page) without working against the timer. Write the answers as quickly as possible without errors. Have the student do this, like I said, for six days and then they graduate to the next page. The only point of the timing is to see if the student has mastered all of those facts. The student will have mastered the facts, if they do the practice correctly every day, so no need for timing at all, really. I have seen students with severe learning problems, who need to do a sheet a dozen times to reach a good level of fluency, but for almost everybody, six days is enough–especially if they will practice both the test and the outside thoroughly and correctly with an adult practice partner who keeps them on task.
If the student wants to do fewer than six days on a set, here’s how.
If your student ever stops being worried during the writing/testing time, you can ask if they’d like to be able to do fewer problems each day. If so, here’s how to set goals. You quietly use the timer on your phone and just mark where the student is on the test after one minute. Count how many were done in one minute and record it on the Rocket chart. Still have the student do all the problems, but keep track of how many they answer in the first minute. By the sixth day you will see that the student has leveled off and hasn’t increased for a couple of days. After counting what’s done in one minute on the last day of three sets, use whatever number they leveled off at, as the goal, and allow them to pass when they reach that goal.