Math Benchmarks: How to Help Your Students Meet Them

Every year, students enter a new math level with new math facts, but what should the students know by the end of each grade? How do teachers measure the success of their students? By using math benchmarks, teachers have a reference point to assess their students’ progress. Rocket Math Online Game and Worksheet Program are great tools to help students meet math benchmarks in every grade.

 

What are Math Benchmarks?

Math benchmarks are standard reference points that can be measured and assessed. Teachers use benchmarks in math to help understand where their students are in their math education and know where they need to be in order to succeed in their grade level.

 

1st Grade Math Benchmarks 

In 1st grade, students focus on learning addition and subtraction up to 20, whole number relationships and grouping, linear measurement and lengths, and geometric shapes.

1. Addition and subtraction up to 20.

1st grade students learn strategies to build math fact fluency for adding and subtracting whole numbers up to 20.

2. Whole number relationships and grouping in tens and ones.

1st grade students learn to compare the whole numbers at least to 100 and be able to understand and solve problems involving their relative sizes.

3. Linear measurement and measuring lengths.

1st grade students learn to understand the meaning and process of measuring including the concepts of iteration and transitivity principle for indirect measurement.

4. Compose and decompose geometric shapes.

1st grade students learn how to compose and decompose geometric shapes, like creating a quadrilateral by putting two triangles together. 

 

2nd Grade Math Benchmarks

In 2nd grade math students focus on developing students’ knowledge of base-ten notation, their fluency with addition and subtraction, standard units of measure, and analyzing shapes. 

1. Base-ten system

2nd grade students learn to count by fives, tens and multiples of hundreds, and learn to recognize which digits represent amounts of thousands, hundreds, tens or ones. E.g. 456 is 4 hundreds + 5 tens + 6 ones.

2. Addition and Subtraction up to 1000

2nd grade students develop their math fact fluency in addition and subtraction up to 1000.

3. Standard units of measure

2nd grade students learn standard units of measure and how to use rulers and other measuring tools.

4. Analyze Shapes

2nd grade students learn how to examine shapes by their sides and angles, and decompose and combine them.

 

3rd Grade Math Benchmarks

In 3rd grade students focus on developing their multiplication and division math facts up to 100, understanding fractions, understanding the structure of rectangular arrays and are, and how to analyze two-dimensional shapes.

1. Multiplication and division math facts up to 100

3rd grade students develop their math fact fluency of multiplication and division of whole numbers up to 100.

2. Fractions and unit fractions

3rd grade students learn unit fractions and fractions and are able to use them to represent numbers equal to, less than, or greater than one.

3. Attribute of two-dimensional regions

3rd grade students learn to find the area of a shape which shows the students how to connect the area to multiplication and how to use multiplication to determine an area of a rectangle.

4. Analyze and compare two-dimensional shapes

3rd grade students compare and classify two-dimensional shapes by their angles and shapes.

 

4th Grade Math Benchmarks

In 4th grade, students focus on developing their math fact fluency in multi-digit multiplication and division, learn math operations with fractions, and understanding geometric figures.

1. Multi-digit multiplication & division

4th grade students understand place value to 1,000,000 and know how to apply multi-digit multiplication and multi-digit division to mentally calculate quotients.

2. Fraction equivalence and operations

4thd grade students learn that two fractions can be the same (e.g. 12/16 = 3/4) and learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide fractions.

3. Geometric figures

4th grade students learn to describe, analyze, compare and classify two-dimensional shapes. 

 

5th Grade Math Benchmarks 

In 5th grade, students focus on developing fraction operations, learn operations with decimals to 100, and develop an understanding of volume.

1. Math fact fluency of fraction operations

5th grade students learn to apply their understanding of fractions and fraction models to calculate sums and differences of fractions in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

2. Relationship between decimals and fractions

5th grade students learn to multiply and divide between decimals and fractions, and to compute quotients of decimals to 100.

3. Volume

5th grade students learn that volume is an attribute of three-dimensional space and can be measured by finding the total number of units that are needed to fill the space.

 

Not meeting Benchmarks: what should it mean?

When students score as “not meeting benchmark,” it means the school should provide some intervention to help the students learn.  When it comes to learning math facts, most students have had no opportunity to learn them in a systematic way. Unless they have had an extraordinary school or an unusual teacher, they have not received structured, systematic learning opportunities to memorize math facts. After three decades in schools, I know this to be the case. Without systematic practice and effort, most students will not meet math fact benchmarks. They won’t meet the Common Core expectation that students will “know [math facts] by memory.” Whose fault is that? It is not the student’s fault nor the parent’s fault. 

 

Are you certain your fluency intervention is effective?

The teacher and the school should provide, not just any “intervention” but should provide an effective intervention. Some so-called “interventions” do not reliably produce increased fluency. An essential part of using an intervention is to measure its effectiveness. [That’s why IEP goals are supposed to have measurable short-term objectives!] The best way to measure the effectiveness of a fluency intervention is with timed, curriculum-based fluency assessments.

By measuring the same way for the same amount of time period, you can see if fluency increases. If the student can complete more items during the timed test each time you measure, you can see their fluency increase. When a vast majority of your students, or all of your students, improve in fluency, then you can be certain that the intervention is effective.

 

Rocket Math Online Game is effective

Screenshot of Rocket Math's average student scores.

As students work through the levels in each Learning Track in the Rocket Math Online Game, they are periodically assigned fluency tests.  Students are tested after completing levels A, i, and R, and then after they finish level Z. Each test is a 1-minute fluency test of a random selection of facts taught in that Learning Track. Therefore the scores are comparable, and when the number goes up at each point in the curriculum, you can be sure that students are increasing in fluency. As you can see from the site-wide data shown here, students consistently improve in fluency as they work through the Rocket Math Online Game. You would not expect students to meet benchmarks until they have completed Set Z in the Learning Track.

 

Math fact fluency benchmark in the Online Game: 20/minute

Screenshot of Rocket Math's 1 minute results.

The 1-minute RACEs in the Rocket Math Online Game are a good way to measure math fact fluency. You can see from the site-wide averages above that on average, students exceed 20 per minute correct at Set Z, and the average at the beginning is much less. So a reasonable benchmark is 20 correct problems per minute.

The teacher can assign a 1-minute RACE at any time, and the student will need to do it upon their next login. The results will be available in the Review Progress screen and export from the button that gives “Results from Assigned races.” However, the best measure of whether students can meet the benchmark is after Set Z, when they have completed the Learning Track. By clicking on the pink button for exporting “Results from Scheduled races,” the score will appear.

A screen shot of an Excel spreadhseet that shows studen'ts multiplication benchmark progress.To the right is a screenshot of an example of the results from scheduled races from one class of upper elementary students. You can see the Account Average shows improvement at each level. If you set a benchmark at 25, you see all but one of the students met that by the end of Level Z. However, we do see several students who began above that level. (They need not have gone through the Learning Track, but most improved anyway.) After Set Z, those scores show that nearly all students are proficient by the end of the Learning Track. So we know that the Online Game is an effective intervention. But there’s a catch. For this display, we eliminated a lot of students who had not completed Set Z in Multiplication. Students have to play the game to learn.

 

Students must participate to learn: Monitor and Recognize Effort

A screenshot of Rocket Math's mini calendar that shows how students are progressing.Assigning an effective intervention will not help unless students are engaged and participate. Instead of reporting on benchmarks of academic achievement, why not report on benchmarks of effort? Each time students login and complete a session (five, ten, or fifteen minutes in length) on the Online Game, the Review Progress screen will record their session. A mini calendar shows the number of sessions per day. As shown in this screenshot, one student completed 7 sessions on the previous Friday. Another student completed 3 sessions on Sunday. The students below the hard workers, whose mini-calendars showed “F” for Friday and “S” for Sunday, did not complete any sessions because there was no number for those days.

A screenshot of Rocket Math's calendar to show how a student is progressing.Even more discriminative, the Review Progress screen shows the total number of sessions completed in the last two weeks. The picture shows data from our demo accounts. The one for Test3 shows 38 sessions in the last 14 days, while others have only 2 sessions. This total data tells us the level of effort students have been putting forth to learn their math facts. If you monitor this number and recognize students putting forth great effort, you’ll get more students participating. I would say that 10 to 14 sessions in the last two weeks are a good effort. 15 to 24 sessions is a very good effort. Any student with 25 or more sessions in the last two weeks is putting forth great effort and should be recognized as a star!

Screenshot of Rocket Math's reward cards.You might consider giving out Award Certificates once a month for students who are putting forth super-star effort. If you reward effort, we guarantee you’ll get achievement. We have sets of Award certificates available on our supplements store site. Soon after doing that, you’ll probably have to start awarding Learning Track certificates for students who are completing Learning Tracks. Those are available on the Admin page on the light blue tab in the main rainbow navigation bar.

 


Using Rocket Math to Help Students Reach Math Benchmarks

Rocket Math Online Game and Worksheet program will help students reach each grade level math benchmark. By systematically teaching students to be math fact fluency, they will be able to not only succeed but learn to enjoy math.

4th Grade Math Worksheets

By 4th grade, students need to stop counting on their fingers and be able to recall math facts immediately. If not, then they will find it hard to learn multiplication and division. Rocket Math offers 4th grade math worksheets that will push your students towards success and prepare them for 5th grade.

 

A student counts on his fingers while working through a math problem.

 

What should a 4th grader know in math?

By the end of fourth grade, students should have memorized all four basic operations of math facts: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Typically, students in fourth grade learn division. However, if your fourth grade students haven’t mastered multiplication, you must help them develop multiplication math fact automaticity first and then teach them, division, if there is enough time in the school year. Without math fact fluency in multiplication, students will struggle with division and learning all higher-order forms of math including algebra.

The only way for students to successfully memorize math facts is systematical. Practicing random math facts or playing math games will never help students memorize. They will simply count the facts out over and over again–coming to hate math. 

 

How how to measure math fact fluency

Not sure if your students are fluent in multiplication math facts and are ready to learn division? If you see a student counting on their fingers, it’s a sure bet they have NOT memorized these basic single-digit facts. If you don’t know for sure, here’s our free resource with all you need to pre-test students on math facts.

 

Why Rocket Math Worksheets help students develop math fact mastery 

Rocket Math’s Worksheet Program is very different from any other math facts practice worksheets. 

The program only teaches a couple of math facts at a time, helping students succeed every day.

Once students learn the correct answers, the Worksheet Program includes a lot of fast-paced practice. With this “learn first, practice second” method, students easily commit their math facts to memory.

The program is graduated and progressive. It mixes newly memorized math facts with previously memorized math facts, helping students develop over time the ability to answer more than 400 math facts instantly from recall.

When students develop automaticity (facts so well learned that their recall is instantaneous), all math becomes easier.

Two students using 4th grade math worksheets practice in class by asking each other questions from Rocket Math's worksheet program.

A unique component of the Worksheet Program is oral student practice. This allows students to receive corrective feedback from their partner, who has the answer key. You cannot learn without corrective feedback from either a person or a computer. Having teachers give corrective feedback by checking and grading written practice is very time-consuming, as well as being too late for effective learning. Having student partners with answer keys correct immediately, during practice, means teachers only have to grade check-point tests instead of monitoring daily practice–a huge plus for time-strapped teachers!

The Worksheet Program is designed to build strong multiplication fact fluency and recall. Memorizing these facts avoids the problem of students having to look up facts in times tables, over and over again.

 

How to teach MULTIPLICATION with Rocket Math’s 4th Grade Math Worksheets

Since many students begin fourth grade without mastery of multiplication facts, let’s start with Rocket Math’s first multiplication worksheet of Set A. As you can see, the worksheet has only “1 times” problems, such as 3 times 1, and 1 times 2. These are very easy, and students can typically answer them quickly, with no hesitation.

 

Screenshot of Rocket Math worksheet on multiplication math facts, set A.

 

First, students practice orally with a partner around the outside of the worksheet. For example, one student practices saying the problems and the answers while the other student offers corrections. You need to teach students that the checker’s role is to correct any fact that isn’t answered instantly without hesitation. The checker needs to follow this special correction procedure.

After two to three minutes of oral practice, students should switch roles and help their partner practice. 

Finally, all students take a one-minute test of these facts on the inside of the worksheet. They will be able to write the answers to those facts as fast as their fingers can carry them. 

 

Writing Speed Test

Before beginning the Worksheet Program, students need to establish goals with a writing speed test. Students who can answer the problems in the one-minute daily test at their established speed will pass on to learn the next set of facts the following day.

 

Screenshot of Rocket Math worksheet on addition fact family, set B.

Once your students master Set A, move on to Set B, then Set C, and so on. Get all of the Multiplication 1s to 9s worksheets from rocketmath.com. Each worksheet follows the same procedure:

  1. Students practice saying the answers to the “outer ring” problems out loud with a partner. 
  2. Partners follow the special correction procedure for any fact that isn’t answered instantly without hesitation. 
  3. After 2-3 minutes of partner practice, all students take a one-minute test of the recently learned facts located on the inside part of the worksheet.
  4. Students that answer the correct amount of math fact problems in 1 minute (based on their writing speed) progress to the next worksheet set. Students that fail the test, repeat steps 1-4 using the same worksheet set the following day.

It usually only takes students a few days to memorize a set.

 

Screenshot of Rocket Math worksheet on Division math facts set F.

How to teach DIVISION with Rocket Math’s 4th Grade Math Worksheets

Once your fourth graders master multiplication math facts, it’s time to teach them division.

To teach your fourth graders division with Rocket Math’s worksheets, use the Division 1s through 9s worksheet and follow the same procedure described in the previous section on multiplication.

The Common Core suggested that students learn math facts up through the 12s. Rocket Math has two Worksheet Programs that do just that. One is Multiplication 10s, 11s, 12s. and the other is Division 10s, 11s, 12s. Each builds upon and reviews facts from the 1s-9s program while keeping learning fun for students who learn faster and need additional challenges.

Graphic of family figures with the math fact family for 12, 3, and 4.

Fact Family Worksheets are another way to study facts

Fact families worksheets provide an alternative way for fourth graders to learn multiplication and division facts. A fact family in multiplication and division is 4 x 3, 3 x 4, 12 ÷ 3, and 12 ÷ 4. By learning these four facts simultaneously, students can internalize the reciprocal nature of multiplication and division. This is also a viable way for students to learn facts initially if that is the teacher’s preference. This can also be a great review for students who begin the year having mastered multiplication and division.

 

Screenshot of Rocket Math worksheet on addition and subtraction fact families up to 20.

Rocket Math Worksheet Program’s specially designed Fact Families

Much like Rocket Math’s single operation worksheets, each Fact Family worksheet in the Rocket Math program asks students to memorize only one fact family at a time. You can see the first fact family students learn in Set A is 1 x 2, 2 x 1, 2 ÷ 1, and 2 ÷ 2. Each set in this program introduces only one fact family to help students easily memorize fact families and work quickly through Sets A to Z.. 

Rocket Math’s Worksheet Program starts with the first level of Multiplication and Division Fact Families to 20, followed by Multiplication and Division Fact Families from 21. Practicing with fact families reinforces the reciprocal nature of multiplication and division and gives extra practice to increase fluency. 

Two students are using 4th grade math worksheets in class by asking each other a math question and testing each other.

4th grade worksheets for learning fractions and factor pairs

Rocket Math Worksheet Program works through a daily routine of oral practice with peers and one-minute tests to determine how fast a student should progress through the A to Z steps. By establishing a daily routine, students can use it to study fractions, factors, and decimals in the more advanced pre-algebra programs available in Rocket Math. These will seriously give students a “leg-up” when they come to pre-algebra concepts that students find slow or cumbersome.

 

Screenshot of Rocket Math worksheet on Identifying Fractions.

Identifying Fractions Worksheets

One such Rocket Math program is the Identifying Fractions Worksheet program. In it, students learn to identify pictures of proper fractions, improper fractions, and mixed numbers. Each A to Z set teaches a new set of three closely related fractions so that students learn to identify the fractions quickly and easily. Students learn this rule: Fractions have a top and a bottom number. The bottom number tells how many parts in each whole. The top number tells how many parts are shaded. When the whole figure is not divided into parts, it is a whole number. The program also presents whole numbers to identify mixed in with fractions. If you have ever seen students struggle with identifying fractions when they are looking at them, you’ll appreciate the power of these worksheets.

 

Screenshot of Rocket Math worksheet practicing the factors of 12 and 36.

Factors (how to find all the factor pairs) Worksheets

Rocket Math Worksheet Program Factors have worksheets to quickly teach students how to name all the factor pairs of common numbers. What are the factors of 36? Answer: 1 x 36, 2 x 18, 3 x 12, 4 x 9, 6 x 6. This is what students learn by memory. Here’s a blog about the foolproof method that students learn. Students practice with a partner, take a daily one-minute timing, fill in a Rocket Chart, just like regular Rocket Math. Simplifying fractions will be a breeze after students learn this easy method and practice finding all the factors of these common numbers.

Students learn all the factors for these numbers in this sequence: 12, 36, 24, 48, 18, 32, 16, 64, 10, 40, 20, 72, 8, 25, 50, 6, 21, 30, 60, 15, 45, and 100. Click here to learn “How to Factor” from Dr. Don’s Educreations lesson on the web.

A screenshot of the 4th grade math worksheet for equivalent fractions from Rocket Math's worksheet program.

 

Equivalent Fractions

Students need to know that six-eighths is equivalent to three-fourths and that four-twelfths is equivalent to one-third. While they can calculate these, it is very helpful to know the most common equivalent fractions by memory. One of the most common problems students have with fractions is not “reducing their answers to simplest form.”

Here’s a 5-minute Educreations lesson on How the Equivalent Fractions program works.

The Equivalent Fractions Worksheet Program is part of the Universal Level subscription to the Worksheet Program. Equivalent fractions will help students commit 100 common equivalent fractions to memory. Each set (A through Z) has four fractions, which are displayed on a fraction number line. Students frequently learn fractions equivalent to one, such as ten-tenths, and fractions that can’t be reduced. For example, three-fourths is equivalent to three-fourths. Using the fraction number line will help with students’ understanding of why those fractions are equivalent.

Click here for the full sequence of 100 Equivalent fractions that students will learn in this program.

Start Rocket Math’s Worksheet Program today

Rocket Math’s unique worksheet program is not only great at teaching fourth graders multiplication and division, but the program also offers beginning numerals, addition, subtraction, and pre-algebra concepts for ages K-12. Each worksheet follows the same effective methodology described in this article and is guaranteed to help your students memorize math facts. Get a Rocket Math Worksheet Subscription for your school or home today.

Quick links to all 4th grade math worksheets:

A Data-Proven Approach to Measuring Math Facts Fluency (That Kids Love!)

You know your student is building math facts fluency, but can you quantify it? With Rocket Math’s Online Game, you can track your student’s progress learning addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division (and 12 other Learning Tracks) from level A to Z. Progress is tracked numerically through 1-Minute Races so that you can compare results over time, between students, and across classrooms.

How Rocket Math’s 1-Minute Races Measure Math Fact Fluency

Starting in the Fall of 2020, the Rocket Math Online Game began scheduling 1-Minute Races for students as they worked through the 16 different Learning Tracks taught in the game.

The 1-Minute Races present a random selection of all the facts in each Learning Track. Students are encouraged to skip facts they haven’t learned, but the scores shown here are the correct answers. When a student completes sets A, i, R, and Z, the 1-Minute Races (also known as math facts fluency tests) are scheduled. We wait until after students complete set A to give the first pre-test, so we know the students know how to use the interface and answer questions.

As the chart below shows, Set A represents the average student’s starting score. Set i and R show intermediate progress. And finally, Set Z represents the average fluency students have achieved by playing through levels 26 A to Z in that Learning Track.

 

Average 1-Minute Race Scores of Students Playing the Rocket Math Online Game

 

The more correct problems per minute, the more fluent the learner. On average, by the end of a Learning Track students should aim for 20 to 30 correct problems per minute in the Online Game races. Want to learn more about how fast students should be with math facts? Read here.

Data show improved math facts fluency as students work through each Learning Track

As you can see above, there is a steady rise in fluency as students work through each Learning Track. Because fluency scores go up consistently at each measuring point, and they do so in every Learning Track, we can be sure that the Online Game is effectively developing fluency. 

Data shows improvement based on how many math facts answered per minute

The fact that on each teststudents can correctly answer more problems shows that they are learning, and the data proves it. That is very important, as you don’t purchase this game simply to entertain children. The goal is to help students achieve math facts fluency, and we are seeing that here. Individual results will, of course, vary.

Not only an excellent online math speed test but also an excellent tool for research

Teachers can also assign these 1-Minute Races at any time, or even on a weekly basis. The scheduled tests, however, show the best effect of the Online Game because the amount of work done to achieve the tests is equal among students. Both scheduled and teacher-assigned results are kept, and the results of these tests can be exported in excel files, so they are available for research purposes. We invite you to study your students’ math fact fluency using the Rocket Math Online Game and 1-Minute Races. One thing is certain from our data, the Rocket Math Online Game works!

Interested in trying out the Rocket Math Online Game? Register for a complimentary subscription today!

Best Math Facts Apps Comparison: Rocket Math vs. XtraMath

There are plenty of math facts apps out there that let students practice math facts they have already learned.  Few apps actually teach math facts.  But apps from Rocket Math and XtraMath are exceptions.  While both apps teach students math facts, one is more effective and fun.

The two best apps for actually teaching math facts

Math facts apps from Rocket Math and XtraMath effectively teach math facts because they have four essential characteristics:

  1. Both math facts apps require students to demonstrate fluency with facts.  Fluency means a student can quickly answer math fact questions from recall.  This is the opposite of letting a student “figure it out” slowly.  Neither app considers a fact mastered until a student can answer a fact consistently within 3 seconds.
  2. Both math facts apps zero in on teaching (and bringing to mastery) a small number of facts at a time.  This is the only way to teach math fact fluency. It’s impossible for students to learn and memorize a large number of facts all at once.
  3. Both math facts apps are responsive.  Apps simply do not teach if they randomly present facts or do not respond differently when students take a long time to answer a fact.
  4. Both math facts apps only allow students to work for a few minutes (15 minutes or less) before taking a break.  Teachers and parents may want to keep students busy practicing math facts for an hour, but students will come to hate the app if they have long sessions.  A few minutes of practice in each session is the best way to learn and to avoid student burnout.
  5. Both math facts apps re-teach the fact if a student makes an error.  While both Rocket Math and XtraMath re-teach facts, they re-teach them differently.

While both apps contain these important features and teach math facts, there are a few vital elements that make an effective app like Rocket Math standout.

An effective app gives a student a sense of accomplishment

The difficult thing about learning math facts is persevering.  There are so many to learn! It takes a while and students have to persevere through boring memorization tasks. The best way to help students learn their math facts is to give them a clear sense of accomplishment as they move through each task.

How XtraMath monitors progress

To develop a sense of accomplishment among its app users, XtraMath displays math facts on a grid.  XtraMath tests the student and marks the ones that are answered quickly (within 3 seconds) with smiley faces.  It takes a couple of sessions to determine what has been mastered and what hasn’t, so there isn’t a sense of accomplishment at first.  This grid is displayed and explained, but it’s not easy to monitor progress.  Over time, there are fewer squares with facts to learn, but there isn’t clear feedback on what’s being accomplished as students work.

How Rocket Math monitors progress

Conversely, Rocket Math begins recognizing student progress immediately and continues to celebrate progress at every step.  The Rocket Math app begins with Set A and progresses up to Set Z.  Each lettered set has three phases: Take-Off, Orbit, and the Universe.  That means there are 78 milestones celebrated in the process of moving from Set A to Set Z.

Take-Off phase has only 4 problems to learn.  They are repeated until the student gets 12 correct in a row.  When the student does that, the doors close (with appropriate sound effects) to show “Mission Accomplished.” They also are congratulated by one of a cast of voices.  Something along the lines of, “Mission Control here.  You did it!  Mission Accomplished! You took off with Set A!  Go for Orbit if you dare!”  With this type of consistent (and fun!) recognition, students clearly understand that they are progressing, and they get the chance to keep learning “if they dare!”

In addition to the three phases, students progress through the sets from A to Z.  Each time a student masters a set, by going through all three phases, the student gets congratulated and taken to their rocket picture, as shown above.  When a level is completed, the tile for that level explodes (with appropriate sound effects) and drops off the picture, gradually revealing more of the picture as tiles are demolished.

In the picture above, the tile for “N” has just exploded. After the explosion, a student is congratulated for passing Level N and encouraged to go for Level O if they dare.   When you talk to students about Rocket Math, they always tell you what level they have achieved.  “I’m on Level K!” a student will announce with pride.  That sense of accomplishment is important for them to keep chugging along. Rocket Math also has available Learning Track certificates from Dr. Don and the teacher for completing through Level Z.

An effective math facts app correct errors—correctly

Neither of these math fact apps allow errors to go uncorrected.  Students will never learn math facts from an app that does not correct errors.  That puts these two apps head and shoulders above the competition.  However, these two apps correct errors very differently.

How XtraMath corrects errors

On the left, you can see the XtraMath correction is visual.  If a student enters the wrong answer, the app crosses the incorrect answer out in red and displays the correct answer in gray.  A student then has to enter the correct answer that they see. This is a major mistake. In this case, students don’t have to remember the answer. They just have to enter the numbers in gray.

How Rocket Math corrects errors

Rocket Math, however, requires the student to remember the answer.  When a student answers incorrectly, the screen turns orange and Mission Control displays and recites the correct problem and answer.  In the pictured situation, Mission Control says, “Seven times nine is sixty-three.  Go again.”  Then the answer clears and the game waits for the student to enter the correct answer.  Under these conditions, the student has to listen to the correction and remember the answer, so they can enter it correctly.

Once the student correctly answers that target problem, the app presents the problem again.  Then it presents it twice more interspersed with other problems.

If the student answers the previously missed problem correctly within the three seconds, the game notes the error, and the student continues through the phase.  If the student fails to answer the problem correctly again, the correction process repeats until the student answers correctly.  Having to listen to and remember the answer, rather than just copy the answer, helps students learn better.

An effective math app gives meaningful feedback

Without feedback, students can’t learn efficiently and get frustrated. But the feedback cannot be generic. It has to dynamically respond to different student behavior.

How XtraMath’s app gives feedback

XtraMath’s charming “Mr. C” narrates all of the transitions between parts of each day’s lesson.  He welcomes students, says he is happy to see them, and updates students on their progress.  He gives gentle, generic feedback about how you’re getting better and to remember to try to recall the facts instead of figuring them out.  However, his feedback remains the same no matter how you do.  In short, it is non-contingent feedback, which may not be very meaningful to students.

How Rocket Math’s app gives feedback

Differing from XtraMath, Rocket Math offers students a lot of feedback that is contingent. Contingent feedback means that students will receive different types of feedback depending on their responses.

The Rocket Math app gives positive feedback for all the 78 accomplishments noted above.  It also doles out corrective feedback when the student isn’t doing well.

As noted above, students receive corrective feedback on all errors. They get feedback when they take longer than three seconds to answer too.  The “Time’s Up” screen on the right pops up and Mission Control says, “Ya’ gotta be faster!  Wait.  Listen for the answer.”  And then the problem and the correct answer are given.  Students get a chance to answer that fact again soon and redeem themselves–proving they can answer it in 3 seconds.

The app tracks errors and three errors means the student needs more practice on this part.  The doors close (with appropriate sound effects).   The student is given encouragement that they have defeated three hard problems, and a challenge to Start Over if they are tough enough.  At that point, the “go” screen appears and the student has to hit “go” to open the doors (with appropriate sound effects) and try it again.

When it comes to recognizing a student’s success, the Rocket Math app holds nothing back. After a student completes a phase, one of a cast of voices gives enthusiastic congratulations as noted above.

Typically, students don’t have to “start over” more than once or twice in a phase, but they still feel a real sense of accomplishment when they do complete the phase.  The feedback students get from Rocket Math matters because they have to work hard to earn it.

How much does an effective math facts app cost?

It is hard to beat the price of XtraMath, which is free.  XtraMath is run by a non-profit based in Seattle.  They have a staff of six folks in Seattle, and they do accept donations.  Their product is great, and they are able to give it away.

Rocket Math is run by one person, Dr. Don.  He supports the app, its development and himself with the proceeds.  He answers his own phone and is happy to talk with teachers about math facts.  The Rocket Math Online Game is a good value at $1.15 a year per seat (when ordering 100 or more seats).  Twenty to 50 seats are $2.30 each. And fewer than 20 seats cost $4 each per year.  As one principal-customer of Rocket Math said, “We used to have XtraMath.  We’d rather pay a little bit for Rocket Math because the kids like it better.”

 

Prove that students using the Rocket Math Online Game are improving in fact fluency!

Document improved fluency by assigning a 1-minute RACE.

We have a feature that will allow you to assign a fluency test to all or some of your students. We call it a “1-minute RACE.”

To Assign a Fluency Test 1-Minute RACE:

1) Select the students to whom you want to assign the test RACE, or Select All.

2) Click on the orange Bulk Action button.

3) Pull down to “Assign 1-min RACE on next login.”

After doing that, in your dashboard you will see that the 1-minute race has been assigned on the next login. 
The next time those students login, they will be given the mission of doing a 1-minute race with ALL the facts in the Learning Track they are studying. They can skip facts they don’t know, by hitting the checkmark.

Here’s what the students experience.

A 1-minute test RACE is also automatically SCHEDULED after Sets A, i, R, and Z. See their latest results in Review Progress!

Assign a 1-minute RACE individually also–at any time you wish.

You can assign a 1-minute RACE at any time for specific individuals as well, using the green Individual Action button at the end of their row.

 

  • Export the test RACE results in spreadsheets. 

    • Separate exports for results from RACEs you Assign from the RACEs that are Scheduled after working through some levels in the Online Game (After sets A, i, R, and Z).

  • See averages across your class or school. 

    • Each spreadsheet will show the average for your class as a teacher or for the school in the account of the Subscription Manager or owner.  There are separate averages for each Learning Track.
  • See trends over time.

    • You’ll see the improvement each student makes from the beginning after Set A to each of the subsequent tests RACES.

Teach Multiplication Facts to Struggling Pre-Algebra Students

You want your middle-grade students to complete the pre-algebra math topics so they are ready to begin to study algebra in 8th or 9th grade. A disheartening number of middle-grade students have not memorized basic multiplication facts (times tables). Students must know multiplication facts to follow, absorb, and implement pre-algebra topics.  How to teach multiplication facts to struggling students? How can a teacher help their struggling students learn multiplication facts when a lot of their students do not need to do that work? 

Rocket Math Online Game includes learning tracks for pre-algebra skills as well as basic multiplication and division facts. Within the Rocket Math Online Game, teachers assign students the learning tracks that they most need.

 

Math Strategies for Struggling Students

a student who does not know her math facts is counting on her fingers.

Students who do not know their multiplication facts are constantly distracted from learning math strategies by having to stop and “figure out” basic facts. Every time they are asked to provide the answer to a multiplication fact, they have to turn their attention to working it out or looking it up. By the time they have gone through their process, they have lost the thread of the strategy they are supposed to be learning. The most important thing a math teacher can do for struggling math students is to help them bring math facts to automaticity. Then answering math fact questions no longer interferes with learning multi-step strategies for solving math problems. 

 

Why Multiplication facts are Important to Learn Before Middle School Math

A student sits frustrated in class because he doesn't understand his basic math facts.

Many pre-algebra math topics assume students have a ready knowledge of multiplication facts to even understand. When I was a middle-grade teacher, my remedial students were unable to follow or understand topics such as Finding factor pairs, reducing fractions, equivalent fractions, converting fractions, unlike fractions, and so on. I realized that it was because they did not know basic multiplication facts. When I reduced 8/24 to ⅓ it was like magic because they did not quickly recognize the multiplication facts involved. They didn’t understand the concepts we were trying to learn because they did not see the relationships they were supposed to know. When I asked them to think of the factor pairs of 36 they were unable to find them all, no matter how much time I gave them. While students can do multi-digit multiplication problems using a times table chart, it does them no good in pre-algebra topics because it takes too long, even if they know what to look up. Now let’s look at how to teach multiplication to struggling students using Rocket Math Worksheets or Rocket Math Online Game. 

 

How to Teach Multiplication to Struggling Students Using Rocket Math

Two students use Rocket Math Worksheets to practice their math facts.

Students who have not yet mastered multiplication facts are going to require a very effective teaching methodology to learn them. The haphazard, leave-it-up-to-the-student methods have already failed them. By now, these students lack confidence in their ability to learn the facts, so you need a sure-fire system. 

Rocket Math is just such a system. Both the Worksheet Program and the Online Game systematically introduce students to the facts in a careful sequence that they can do. The Worksheet Program and Online Game ask students to memorize only two facts and their reverses at a time.  

Students demonstrate mastery of those facts by answering them without hesitation. Then Rocket Math will add two more facts and their reverses. Small steps at a time, systematically the students can memorize the facts and answer them instantly from memory. If students practice every day, within a few weeks you’ll see a dramatic improvement in their recall of multiplication facts. 

But what about the students who already know their multiplication facts? Rocket Math has something for them as well. 

 

Rocket Math Programs for Advanced Students 

Teachers can assign Rocket Math as a 10-minute warm-up or cool down for all their students whether they are behind or advanced. Rocket Math has several pre-algebra topics for those students who already know their multiplication facts. Each of these topics will help them do pre-algebra processes more fluently and to quickly recognize relationships that they have memorized.

 

Learning Track 13: Identifying Fractions

Screenshot of Rocket Math Online Game for identifying fractions.When students initially learn about fractions they are often only shown proper fractions. As a result, they have a limited understanding of fractions and can be confused by improper fractions or mixed numbers. The Rocket Math programs (both Worksheet and Online) prevent this problem.  From the start, we teach students using examples of both proper and improper fractions as well as whole numbers and mixed numbers. Students learn to identify over 90 different fractions quickly and easily by getting lots of practice. Their understanding of fractions will deepen and become more flexible as they learn to recognize many examples of fractions.

 

Learning Track 14: Equivalent Fractions

Screenshot of Rocket Math Online Game of Equivalent Fractions practice.Students will memorize the most common equivalent fractions with this Rocket Math Learning Track. They will also learn to identify a number of fractions, such as 2/9,  that do not “reduce” or for which there are no equivalent fractions in lower terms. Students also learn to recognize a fraction equal to 1 whole in its various forms. When students don’t instantly know the answer they are told the equivalent fraction and given practice on it. The computer gives help in the Online Game.  Their partner gives that help in the Worksheet Program. By the end of the program, students will learn over 90 equivalent fractions. This gives students an excellent start on being able to manipulate fractions quickly and easily.

 

Learning Track 15: Factors & Primes

factors and primes game screensStudents are required to “find the factors” when dealing with unlike fractions and reducing fractions. Rocket Math Worksheet and Online Game teach students how to find factor pairs. Students learn how to find all the factor pairs and what they all are for many common numbers. They also learn to identify prime numbers and their characteristic of having only one and themselves as factors. Students learn the factor pairs in order and know the “last” factor pair when they see it. When the game asks “What’s next?” students can provide the next pair of factors or click the checkmark to indicate there are no more factors. When students go through this Learning Track they will no longer hesitate when asked for the factors of common numbers.

 

Learning Track 16: Fraction & Decimal Equivalents

Screenshot of Rocket Math Online Game of Fraction & Decimal Equivalents practice.

Common fraction and decimal equivalents should not require a laborious process to “figure out.” Students should just know these, so this Learning Track in the Online Game allows them to memorize a bunch of common decimal and fraction equivalents. Having a facility with a lot of fraction and decimal equivalents means faster computation as well as a way to check their process when manipulating fractions and decimals. Students also learn another essential pre-algebra skill that often confuses them.  They learn to correctly and fluently translate a fraction into a division problem and vice-versa.

“Test Drive” any of the 16 Learning Tracks in our Online Game demo accounts. 

Register for a 14-day free trial of Online Game for all your students

Explore the options for subscribing to the Worksheet Program.

Teaching Math Fact Fluency | Why Rote Learning Works best

Developing math fact fluency requires memorization and enables success in math

In case you have any doubt, every set of official recommendations about elementary math recognizes that children need to “know facts from memory,” which is to say recall. Memorization is required to develop math fact fluency or easy, automatic recall. Teaching math fact fluency is necessary, of course, for fluent computation. Math fact fluency is also required for understanding and manipulating fractions. Instant recall of math facts is required to be able to recognize when the calculator is not showing the right answer. How students should learn facts, and when they should begin the process is not as well understood.

What Students must know before beginning to memorize math facts

Students need to understand the operation, whether it is addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division, before they begin to memorize the math facts in that operation. What does it mean to say a student “understands” an operation? It means that given some time, they can figure out the answer to a math fact problem in that operation. A student who can add 8 and 7 and get the answer of 15 by drawing lines or counting on their fingers understands the operation. A student who can add 6 five times to get 30 understands multiplication well enough to begin learning answers. Really if you think about math facts, there are only two things to know: how to figure it out and what the answer is. Once students can “figure it out,” then all that’s left is memorizing the answer, so they don’t have to keep figuring it out over and over!

What students do NOT need to know before beginning memorization

There is a very widespread belief that students must play around with math facts before they begin memorization. That they need to experience a variety of ways of figuring out facts. Or that they need to first learn relationships among facts, like the doubles or doubles plus one. It is believed they need to do these before they begin memorization. Yes, done poorly, timed tests of ALL the facts without a program of instruction, is bad for students. Timed tests without learning results in students reconfirming their worst fears, that they are “bad at math.” That is counter-productive. We want students to develop confidence in their ability to learn and do the math. But do they need to play a lot of games or spend a lot of time figuring out math facts?  Maybe not.

Experimental Research has NEVER Shown the Necessity of Games.

Some advocates suggest that students must learn how to figure out facts “efficiently” before beginning memorization. But there is no cognitive difference between being able to figure out a fact efficiently or inefficiently. John A. Van de Walle, an author of “developmental” and “student-centered” math textbooks, is quite emphatic. He says,”Do not subject any student to fact drills unless the student has developed an efficient strategy for the facts included in the drill. … Drill prior to development of efficient methods is simply a waste of precious instructional time,” (Van de Walle, John A. Elementary and Middle School Math).

It is a bold claim, but not one that is backed up by any experimental evidence. Proponents like Van de Walle often cite “research” to “prove” that students must explore and play with numbers before memorization can begin. The “research”  citations are not experimental studies with control groups. They are simply recommendations or observations of what students do when they try to memorize on their own. 

It is true that if there is no systematic instruction, students will start finding ways to remember facts on their own. These little techniques are not bad in themselves but are abandoned when students finally learn the facts. When you can instantly recall the answer to a fact, you know it without going through any intervening thought. In fact, there’s no time for that. If you know that 8 plus 9 is 17 in a straight recall, instantly, you don’t need anything else. You no longer benefit from thinking through that “8 plus 8 is 16 and since 8 plus 9 is one more, the answer is one more than 16 or 17.”

 

Real research into teaching math fact fluency is desperately needed.  

An interesting experiment, that has never been done, would be to put randomly selected students into two groups after they had learned how to figure out an operation. One group could do these various non-rote, playing with numbers activities. That play-time would be followed with a program of memorization of math facts. The second group would go ahead with the program of memorization without bothering with all exploratory activities. Rocket Math would gladly fund such a research study and provide the math facts practice materials to do it. Seriously, which group do you think would have learned the facts soonest?

Common Non-Rote Activities that Just Waste Time

Students and teacher playing multiplication games with dice sitting in a circle in a classroom, to learn math facts.

Dice. 

The various types of activities that have students roll dice and add numbers together are usually a waste of time. Generally, most of the students are not doing math at all; they are just watching. The ones who are doing math, are just practicing figuring out the facts–but that’s something they already knew.

Cards.

Some recommendations include having children play cards–hoping they will learn more about numbers by doing that.  If you don’t know math facts, you will find playing most card games that involve combinations to be difficult.  You might start trying to remember some common combinations on your own.  That does not help you memorize facts any faster, however.

Combinations.  

One popular idea is having students make up combinations of numbers that add up to ten. Here’s an example of one version. Use a large dice and a whiteboard with a blank number bond drawn on it. Put the number 10 in the middle circle, and tell the students that you are going to make a number bond that equals 10. Roll the dice, and whatever number comes up, it goes into the top circle. The students then have to decide what number goes in the bottom circle to complete the bond.

Here is another variation of the same thing.  Set up three hula hoops in the yard. Take ten students at a time and roll the dice. Four of them moved into one hula hoop and the other six crowded into the other. Then have them get back together as a group of ten. Roll the dice again, and then have them split into two pairs again. It may take several rounds of this moving in variations of 10 before the students “get it.”

No time left to teach math fact fluency.

These activities take up a lot of valuable instructional time, to no clear end. The real result of these recommended activities is that teachers NEVER get enough time to work on memorization of facts. In the United States, a huge percentage of our children are not fluent in math facts or computation or the prerequisite skills for algebra. These games and activities waste the time needed to actually develop math fact fluency.

How to Improve Math Fact Fluency with Rote Learning

Students can only memorize a few facts at a time.  Almost no one can memorize ten similar facts at the same time.  Instruction must introduce a careful sequence of a few facts at a time, followed by plenty of practice.  Well-designed instruction makes memorization easy.  Students can instantly recall the answers to facts they have committed to long-term memory.  Facts introduced too quickly can overwhelm a student’s memory capacity.  The task requires a steady process of accumulating these facts over several weeks.  Students learn at a pace based on their ability.  Everyone can memorize the facts, but just not all at the same speed.  Everyone can do rote learning, but it takes time and patient practice.

How to Get Kids to Memorize Math Facts (And Love Doing It!)

A student holds up their Rocket Math score sheet, which teaches math fact fluency to students.

There isn’t anything less intrinsically interesting than learning math facts. However, students and teachers commonly tell me that “doing Rocket Math” is their favorite time of the day. Why is that?  Both the Rocket Math worksheets and the new Online Game are designed to carefully introduce facts at a rate based on student learning. Students are continuously successful and are not overwhelmed.

A second reason students love Rocket Math are its built-in milestones.  As they achieve them, students can recognize the progress they are making. Students love feeling themselves achieving mastery–it is fun. They know they are in school to learn, and they love it when they can tell that they are learning. Far from being harmful, learning math facts can help build the self-esteem of all students. Not to mention making math easier in the long run. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to postpone this important aspect of your students’ education.

**Nor do the proponents of these various math activities and games say which grades should do these and which ones should stop playing games and get to memorizing. Consequently, many teachers keep doing these games all the way through elementary school and never do get around to the memorization part.

 

20 years of Rocket Math shows that going straight to memorization works fine

Teachers have been using, and students have been learning from Rocket Math for over 20 years, without first doing these games, and not having any problems. You can too. Try it for yourself and see. We have a 60-day free trial of Rocket Math Online Game. Call us if you need an extension.  

Math Fact Benchmarks: Why Writing Speed Matters

Math drills are used to help students learn their basic single-digit math facts. The goal is to help students answer basic math facts from recall and develop automaticity. The only way to tell if a student is recalling the answer rather than figuring it out is by using timed math drills as benchmarks. But students cannot learn how to recall a full page of math facts by drilling on them. The drills will likely cause anxiety and frustration for students. Here are some common pitfalls that are wise to avoid when teaching students basic single-digit facts.  

Common Problems With Math Benchmarks 

Schools typically set “benchmarks” to evaluate whether students have achieved their educational goals.  When it comes to math fact memorization, schools will set benchmarks to distinguish between knowing the answers by a quick recall from the slow process of figuring out the facts. There are two main problems with these benchmarks.

Learned one at a time. 

The first problem is that math facts are learned individually and students meet the benchmark one problem at a time. The benchmark should be to answer a problem in less than a second. If they can, then it would be clear which math facts a student has memorized and which ones they don’t. It is more common for schools to give tests on all the facts in an operation and these tests can’t tell the schools which facts are memorized. A more meaningful report would be which facts in an operation can a student answer instantly.

 

Time to write the answer. 

The second main problem is that no matter how well students know facts, they cannot write answers to facts any faster than they can write. Elementary students vary in speed and can write answers anywhere from 10 answers in a minute to 50 in a minute. If a student can answer 40 problems in a minute, they have achieved mastery of math facts. But if they can’t write answers that quickly, they can not meet their school’s benchmark. In order to set a reasonable standard, teachers need to know how fast students can write and a writing speed test will help determine this.

Common Core Math Fact Fluency Need Not Cause Anguish

The Common Core Idea says that students must have a quick recall of math facts to progress successfully in math. For some reason, almost all children have memorized 2+2=4 and can answer this problem from recall. It is not stressful or hard and will not cause math phobia. So, we know that learning how to answer a math problem instantly from recall is doable and can be done without being stressful. The challenge is that there are a lot of facts to learn, but taken a few at a time, they can all be learned equally easily. 

To do this though, it takes a systematic effort, daily practice, and careful monitoring. Teachers need a facts program of some kind to help their students commit a large number of facts to memory. Before developing the design principles behind Rocket Math, I had thought this was a nearly impossible task. But in the last 20 years, I have seen how Rocket Math has been used successfully to teach math facts to students. With plenty of time, patience, and encouragement, students can learn to recall math facts from memory and with Rocket Math they can do this while having fun.

Rocket Math Writing Speed Test

 The writing speed test for Rocket Math

Here is a simple easy-to-use Writing Speed Test to help figure out how fast a student is able to answer when they have all the facts in an operation memorized. The test is a mix of one and two-digit numbers so it works with addition and multiplication. 

Simply give the test to your students and have them write the numbers they see in each box for one minute. You will be able to find out how many boxes they can complete in one minute. That number is the upper limit of math fact problems you can expect them to be able to answer–if they are answering from recall rather than by figuring them out.

Writing speed is number of boxes completed. 

When the student has finished the test, you will have the number of boxes they can complete in a minute. You can expect the student to be able to finish at least 80% of that number if they can recall the facts instantly.  If the student can answer 90%, they don’t need any fact work. If they are between 80 and 90% of that number, they are good, but more facts work would help them. Anything below 80% and they are having to stop to figure out some of the facts and need more work.

If you’re not interested in doing the math over and over, here is a goal sheet for pre-tests, where the numbers are worked out for you. You can print it from this link.

Benchmarks must be based on writing speed. 

Benchmarks that don’t take into account the speed at which children can write, leave a lot of children with an impossible expectation. Asking children to do something they are physically incapable of doing will cause a lot of unnecessary anguish.   

 

 

Kindergarten Math Benchmarks

Students should be taught how to write numerals correctly and efficiently in kindergarten. The methods of drawing numerals that children invent on their own can be slow, cumbersome, and inefficient – causing them to have a slow writing speed later. Rocket Math Writing for Numerals is a systematic method that will help students learn how to form their numerals. Benchmarks for kindergarteners should focus on the speed of writing numerals, which takes a good amount of practice and instruction.

Kindergarten Numeral Writing Fluency Benchmarks (digits)

    • Mid-year       
      • 20 digits per minute        
    • End of year     
      • 40 digits /minute       

First-grade Math Benchmarks

First-grade students need to be fluent in writing numerals. Not every kindergarten does this, so teachers should test and give some kind of numeral writing program to students who do not meet these writing standards.

First Grade Numeral Writing Fluency Benchmarks (digits)

    • Start of year  
      • 40 digits per minute               
    •  Mid-year   
      • 60 digits per minute                         
    •  End of year     
      • 60 digits per minute

We also want first-graders to learn addition facts to the level of instant recall. The student’s writing speed is the number of boxes they can complete in one minute.   

First Grade Math Fact Fluency Benchmarks (problems)

    • Start of year   
      • Addition 20% of writing speed   
    •  Mid-year  
      • Addition 40% of writing speed    
    • End of year  
      • Addition 80% of writing speed  
      • Subtraction 20% of writing speed 

Second-grade Math Benchmarks

In second-grade we want students to master subtraction facts as well as addition.  

    • Start of year  
      • Addition 80% of writing speed  
    • Mid-year   
      • Addition 80% of writing speed 
      • Subtraction 40% of writing speed
    • End of Year
      • Addition 80% of writing speed
      • Subtraction 80% of writing speed

Third-grade Math Benchmarks

In third-grade it is important that students master subtraction and begin working on multiplication. 

    • Start of year 
      • Addition 80% of writing speed  
      • Subtraction 80% of writing speed 
    • Mid-year 
      • Addition 80% of writing speed 
      • Subtraction 80% of writing speed 
      • Multiplication 40% of writing speed
    • End of year 
      • Addition 80% of writing speed  
      • Subtraction 80% of writing speed 
      • Multiplication 80% of writing speed

Fourth-grade Math Benchmarks

In fourth-grade it is important for the students to have multiplication mastered and begin division.

    • Start of the Year
      • Addition 80% of writing speed
      • Subtraction 80% of writing speed
      • Multiplication 80% of writing speed
    • Mid-year   
      • Addition 80% of writing speed 
      • Subtraction 80% of writing speed
      • Multiplication 80% of writing speed
      • Division 40% of writing speed  
    • End of year 
      • Addition 80% of writing speed  
      • Subtraction 80% of writing speed
      • Multiplication 80% of writing speed
      • Division 80% of writing speed

Fifth-grade (and up) math fact benchmarks

In fifth-grade it is important for the students to have mastered their basic math facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

    • Start of year  
      • Addition 80% of writing speed  
      • Subtraction 80% of writing speed
      • Multiplication 80% of writing speed
      • Division 80% of writing speed
    •  
    •  
    • Mid-year  
      •  Addition 80% of writing speed 
      • Subtraction 80% of writing speed
      • Multiplication 80% of writing speed
      • Division 80% of writing speed  
    • End of year 
      • Addition 80% of writing speed
      • Subtraction 80% of writing speed
      • Multiplication 80% of writing speed
      • Division 80% of writing speed                      

All the 1-minute pre-tests and the writing speed tests and the goal sheet can be found on this page https://rocketmath.com/pre-tests/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocket Math Is A Fun Way For Students To Learn

Rocket Math has a systematic approach to teaching students how to become fluent in basic math facts and still have fun learning math. Math can seem daunting to learn and if not taught properly, using a good math program, students can build a math phobia. Teachers have been using Rocket Math for over 20 years now and believe it to be an invaluable tool to help their students learn math. 

 

Math Facts Practice Online: Add, Subtract, Multiply, Divide

Searching for a program to practice math facts online that will help your learner power through their math facts and have fun?

Rocket Math Online Game offers effective addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division practice, and students have a blast doing it! Why do they love the game? The game helps students quickly and methodically memorize math facts, which means less frustration and more fun! The game also shows students their progress with exciting, rocket ship-themed graphics and audio to keep them motivated to learn more. It turns out that students learn better and are more motivated to continue when they can clearly see their progress. Who knew?

How Rocket Math’s online math game works

Too many children still count on their fingers to figure out basic addition facts. If a child continues to spend hours counting on their fingers, it is a sure way to make them hate math. Professors of education frequently teach that “all rote learning is bad for children.” This is not true when it comes to math facts. Memorizing basic facts is a necessary step (to free up working memory) on the path to higher-order thinking in math, and by skipping math fact memorization, teachers are handicapping their students. As a result of the dogma against memorization, few new teachers have any idea how to effectively help their students memorize.

For example, giving students a worksheet full of problems that they haven’t been able to memorize isn’t going to help. Nor will a computer practice game that randomly gives problems for students to solve. A good math program will provide students with a few math facts at a time to work through before adding more. 

Student with Rocket Chart filled out

Rocket Math Online Game does just this. Starting with two math facts and their reverse, the game won’t let the student move on until they can answer these math problems instantly. Rocket Math Online Game will then gradually, carefully, and systematically add new facts to those already learned. Students have to answer in 3 seconds or less, or they have to do that part over until they can answer the math fact immediately. They will work through set A to set Z with 26 levels in three phases; Take-Off, Orbit, and Universe. Each time they complete a set, the tile for that set explodes and falls away. As students progress through the levels, they can fill out the Rocket Chart to see their progress and stay motivated. 

Addition Math Facts Practice in Rocket Math Online Game

First-grade students should begin working on the first Learning Track: Addition 1s through 9s math facts and have all those facts memorized first. With Rocket Math Online Game, there are three Learning Tracks to choose from for your first-grade class.

  • The Basic Learning Track
    • 1. Addition 1s through 9s
  • The Alternative Learning Track: learning addition and subtraction facts in families
    • 5. Fact Families (+, -) to 10
  • Optional Learning Track
    • 7. Add to 20

If you notice a student is taking more than a week to pass a level in sets A-Z of Addition 1s through 9s, that’s a sign for you to intervene. Often this means that the child is struggling and needs to practice more. They need to logon and practice at home in addition to their practice in school. The first graders who can finish the Learning Track for Addition 1s though 9s, can move on to the Optional Learning Track, Add to 20. Advanced first graders who are very quickly mastering facts can certainly move into the Learning Tracks recommended below for 2nd grade.  

There is an alternative sequence of learning addition and subtraction facts, through Fact Families.  Fact Families introduces addition and subtraction facts at the same time in “families” such as 1+3, 3+1, 4-3, 4-1. Because the facts are introduced in families students are able to switch back and forth between addition and subtraction as they are learning. Rocket Math breaks up the fact families into a Learning Track with addition and subtraction facts up to 10 to begin in first grade and then a second Learning Track of facts from 11 that follows after, either in first grade or second.   

Subtraction Math Facts Practice in Rocket Math Online Game

Many teachers think subtraction facts are harder for children to learn.The reason they seem harder to learn is that most children don’t fully master addition before they start memorizing subtraction facts. When that happens, the two operations interfere with one another (officially, it’s known as proactive and retroactive inhibition), and subtraction facts become harder to learn.

Students who work through the addition sets in Rocket Math Online Game, will not find this to be a problem. Once the student has mastered the addition facts, they will quickly recognize that subtraction facts are “the opposite” of addition. The interference does not happen, and the students will feel good about their progress and learn to do computation with ease. 

Rocket Math Online Game offers these Learning Tracks for second graders to master subtraction:

  • The Basic Learning Tracks
    • 1. Addition 1s through 9s
    • 2. Subtraction 1s through 9s
  • The Alternative Learning Tracks: learning addition and subtraction facts in families
    • 5. Fact Families (+, -) to 10
    • 6. Fact Families (+, -) from 11
  • Optional Learning Tracks
    • 7. Add to 20
    • 8. Subtract from 20

Second graders who did not learn addition Math Facts in first grade must focus on addition facts first. After they have gotten through Set Z of addition, they can move on to 2. Subtraction 1s through 9s.

Second-grade students who complete addition and subtraction 1s-9s can start Add to 20 and then go on to Subtracting from 20. 

As noted above,  learning by fact families is an alternative route to learning basic addition and subtraction facts.  The first Learning Track would be #5 Fact Families (+, -) to 10 followed by #6 Fact Families (+, -) from 11. 

 

Multiplication Math Facts Practice in Rocket Math Online Game

Being able to multiply is harder than addition or subtraction because you can’t count on your fingers. While it is necessary for students to memorize the “times facts,” they are seldom systematically taught. Preservice teachers are frequently taught that “rote learning is bad for children.” This is not true, but as a result, most new teachers have no idea how to effectively help their students memorize. Memorizing basic facts is a necessary step (to free up working memory) on the path to higher-order thinking in math, and by skipping math fact memorization, teachers are handicapping their students.

Rocket Math Online Game offers these Learning Tracks for third graders to master multiplication: 

 

 

  • The Basic Learning Tracks
    • 3. Multiplication 1s through 9s (priority)
    • 1. Addition 1s through 9s (if still not mastered)
    • 2. Subtraction 1s through 9s (if still not mastered)
  • The Alternative Learning Track: learning multiplication and division facts in families
    • 11. Fact Families (x,÷) to 20 
  • Optional Learning Track
    • 9. Multiplication 10s-11s-12s 

In third grade, multiplication has priority, and students must master it first even if they have not mastered addition and subtraction. Higher-level math students who may not have mastered addition and subtraction will only be crippled more without learning multiplication. Once the student has mastered multiplication, then go back and work on mastering addition and subtraction. When students have mastered all three of these basic operations, they can move on to 9. Multiplication 10s-11s-12s. And of course, advanced third graders who have learned the concept of division can move into the Learning Tracks recommended below for fourth grade students.  

There is an alternative sequence of learning multiplication and division facts, through Fact Families.  Fact Families introduces multiplication and division facts at the same time in “families” such as 4×5, 5×4, 20÷4, 20÷5. Because the facts are introduced in families students are able to switch back and forth between multiplication and division as they are learning.  Rocket Math breaks up the multiplication and division fact families into facts up to 20 to begin in third grade and then a second Learning Track of facts from 20 follows after, either in third grade or fourth.

Division Math Facts Practice in Rocket Math Online Game

The key to learning division facts is to learn them gradually. Students should work a few minutes at a time and then take a break. Rocket Math Online Game has students work for five minutes at a time (although the teacher can increase it to 10 or 15 minutes if the student wants it), and then the game pauses for a 20-minute break. Breaks will help keep students from becoming tired of the game and ensure they want to keep playing. Learning Math Facts is a marathon, not a sprint, so we want them to do Rocket Math once or twice a day for a few months. That’s how they will come to master the math facts.

Typically, students learn division in fourth or fifth grade, but they can learn it earlier if they understand the concept. Division isn’t harder than multiplication, but it will be if students have not mastered multiplication first. That’s why having students work through Set Z of multiplication before starting division is essential.

Here are the Learning Tracks offered by Rocket Math Online Game:

 

 

  • The Basic Learning Tracks
    • 3. Multiplication 1s through 9s (priority)
    • 4. Division 1s through 9s (secondary priority)
  • The Alternative Learning Tracks: learning multiplication and division facts in families
    • 11. Fact Families (x,÷) to 20 
    • 12. Fact Families (x,÷) from 21
  • Optional Learning Tracks
    • 9. Multiplication 10s-11s-12s
    • 10. Division 10s-11s-12s

When they have mastered multiplication and the 1s-9s of division, students can go on to Multiplication 10s-11s-12s and Division 10s-11s-12s.

As noted above, learning by fact families is an alternative route to learning basic multiplication and division facts.  The first Learning Track would be #11 Fact Families (x,÷) to 20 followed by #12 Fact Families (x,÷) from 21. 

Rocket Math Online Game – The Best Tool to Learn Math Facts

Mastering the basic facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division will not only help students succeed in school, but are essential skills to have outside of the classroom. If you want your students to be successful at math and enjoy learning, memorizing these math facts is vital. With Rocket Math Online Game, your students will be engaged and excited to play. Students will be able to see their progress, celebrate their wins, and take pride in what they learn. It doesn’t take much to motivate your students, just a sincere recognition of their achievement. They will know when they have accomplished something, and if you recognize it as well, then they will feel proud of themselves.

There’s a free two-week trial of the Rocket Math Online Game so you can see for yourself how well it works and how students love it.

The Ultimate Guide to Math Fact Fluency

Students counting on their fingers is a sure-tell sign that they didn’t acquire math fact fluency. It is sad to see students, ashamed of the only thing they know, counting on their fingers under their desks. Our elementary educational mission is failing students who haven’t developed math fact fluency, which  is the foundation to more advanced math skills.

Developing math fact fluency takes structure, organization, and work on the part of both teachers and students. In this article, I will share everything you need to know about developing math fact fluency.

What is Math Fact Fluency

Math facts are single-digit problems such as 7+9 or 6×8 or 14-5, and so on. A common name for all the multiplication math facts is the “multiplication table.” Math fact fluency is the ability to answer all math fact questions instantly from recall without having to think through the problem.

Students should be able to recall math facts instantly without having to count on their fingers or  hesitate to think about the answer. This may seem like a high bar, but our brains are great at recalling an unbelievable amount of information daily, and with practice, math facts can be recalled the same way. 

Three Reasons Why Math Fact Fluency is Important

tools to build math fact fluencyMath fact fluency is critical because it is a “tool skill.” Meaning, it is a tool that is used in the process of doing other math problems. Developing this tool skill makes learning math easier as concepts get more complicated. This tool skill needs to be automatic in the student’s brain, in order to save precious short-term memory resources.

Math fact fluency can be compared to reading. Students must recognize words automatically to comprehend the author’s meaning. Otherwise, they will spend too much time decoding individual words.

 

 

When students are fluent in math facts, they are focused on the math process as a whole, rather than stopping to puzzle out the facts. This is important for three reasons: 

1. Students with math fact fluency make fewer errors

Students who lack math fact fluency often make careless errors doing arithmetic computations . If they devote too much energy to deriving math facts, they lose sight of the problem at hand and make mistakes that would otherwise be obvious. Those who can effortlessly recall math facts can concentrate on what they are doing, and ultimately make fewer errors.

2. Math fact fluency makes learning math easier

When a new math procedure is introduced, students who have math fact fluency can easily follow the thread of instruction. Without this fluency, students fall behind instruction or demonstrations as they try working out math facts. This distraction takes away from a student absorbing all of the details necessary to successfully learn new math processes.

The first teacher to use Rocket Math to teach subtraction facts to her second graders realized the benefit first hand. She told me that with Rocket Math, she was able to teach regrouping in subtraction in just three days.

Her students mastered the math facts, and the outcome was extraordinary. The teacher shared that since these students had developed fluency in subtraction facts, they were able to learn other procedures easily.

3. Students who have developed math fact fluency enjoy math and always complete their work

Having to count on your fingers or look up facts on a timetable is slow and onerous. When students can’t work quickly, math problems become a dreaded drudgery. Students are motivated by mastering new skills, which will help them work faster and build confidence . Those who can quickly recall math facts will complete their work with ease , and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.

 

How to Build and Improve Math Fact Fluency

steep climb to math fact fluencyBuilding and improving math fact fluency requires a systematic effort over the elementary years. It is a long climb to achieve mastery and there are no short-cuts.

Consistent daily practice throughout elementary school is important for retention. Slow and steady wins the race when building math fact fluency.

Math fact practice should be structured in such a way that students are learning a small number of facts at a time. These small groups of facts  should be practiced daily until students have reached mastery. As time goes on, more groups of math facts are introduced systematically in small amounts for students to master.

Learning 1s to 9s facts in the four basic operations will take elementary students months to master. Worksheets and game applications are two of the best ways to teach math fact fluency over time. Combining structured math fact learning, practice, and evaluation with fun math fact games helps students develop number sense and understand complex numerical relationships.

 

Teaching Math Fact Fluency with Worksheets

Worksheets are popular tools that teachers reach for when teaching math facts, but sadly, they often fall short for the majority of students. A few select students will begin memorizing the facts on their own accord in order to make the worksheets easier, but most students will continue to slowly work out the facts either on their fingers or in their heads. These students may never develop a strong recall of the facts and become flustered when asked to answer problems on the spot.

Fortunately, there are specific worksheets that are effective in building math fact fluency. The key is having worksheets that are structured, systematic, and sequenced. Each worksheet should only have two to four facts to be learned. 

By working on only two to four facts, these worksheets help teach memorization for a strong recall, rather than reinforcing working out problems slowly. Students  will then be able to remember these small groups of facts easier, and by the end of the worksheet will be writing answers from memory. 

 

Teaching Math Fact Fluency with The Rocket Math Worksheet Program

Two students participating in one of Rocket Math's math fluency programsThe Rocket Math Worksheet Program improves upon this concept by using paired practice and saying facts aloud. Students partner up and practice quickly recalling facts together. One student asks the questions and watches for when their partner hesitates to answer. He or she then gives his or her partner more opportunities to practice the harder facts.

The students switch roles, and after both have answered questions, they then take a one minute test on the facts that they have learned so far. If students are answering as fast as their fingers will carry them, then they pass the level and move on to the next worksheet in the sequence.

Ten minutes of practice  every day gets the job done, especially when paired with using these facts in higher level math problems.

 

Teaching Math Fact Fluency with Games

Students and teacher playing multiplication games with dice sitting in a circle in a classroomIn addition to worksheets, schools of education tell teachers to use games to “teach” math facts. Unfortunately, most games and fun activities do not actually help individual students learning math facts to the level of fluency. These games, such as bingo or dice, have several fallouts:

  • Students spend most of their time waiting for their turn rather than practicing facts.
  • They do not focus on teaching a small group of facts in a manner that helps students commit them to memory.
  • The games do not adjust to an individual student’s level of fluency.
  • Students can pace the game slowly enough to have time to figure out facts rather than requiring recall.
  • It is difficult to keep every student engaged, as those who are behind are less likely to participate.

Using the Rocket Math Online Game as an Effective Way to Teach Math Fact Fluency

asian child holding tablet with a math fact fluency app by Rocket MathThere are games that are very effective at building math fact fluency. Games such as the Rocket Math Online Game have several important features that make a big difference.

  1. Every student is engaged in answering math facts—not waiting for a turn.
  2. Students learn only a few new facts at a time so that they can remember them.
  3. The game provides lots of focused practice on each set of facts. 
  4. The game requires students to answer quickly, which guarantees the students recall the answer rather than “figuring it out” over and over.
  5. The game gives an immediate correction and extra practice on any facts that students cannot answer quickly and correctly.
  6. The game only introduces new facts once students demonstrate mastery of facts learned so far.
  7. The game gives students explicit feedback so they have a sense of accomplishment as they work their way through an operation.

Math Fact Fluency Benchmarks

The following benchmarks are reasonable expectations for a school that has an effective math fluency program in place. Of course, a student cannot write math facts any faster than they can normally write, so take that into account when looking at fluency benchmarks. Adjust the benchmarks for students who do not write quickly. 

Kindergarten Numeral Writing Fluency Benchmarks (digits)

Start of Year Mid-Year End of Year
  20 digits per minute 40 digits per minute
 

First Grade Numeral Writing Fluency Benchmarks (digits)

Start of Year Mid-Year End of Year
40 digits per minute 60 digits per minute 60 digits per minute
 

First Grade Math Fact Fluency Benchmarks (problems per minute)

Start of Year Mid-Year End of Year
Addition: 12 per minute Addition: 25 per minute Addition: 25 per minute
 

Second Grade Math Fact Fluency (problems per minute)

Start of Year Mid-Year End of Year
Addition: 25 per minute                      Addition: 30 per minute                      Addition: 30 per minute
  Subtraction: 12 per minute Subtraction: 25 per minute
 
Third Grade Math Fact Fluency Benchmarks (problems per minute)
Start of Year Mid-Year End of Year
Addition: 30 per minute Addition: 30 per minute Addition: 30 per minute
Subtraction: 30 per minute Subtraction: 30 per minute Subtraction: 30 per minute
  Multiplication: 30 per minute Multiplication: 30 per minute
 
Fourth Grade Math Fact Fluency Benchmarks (problems per minute)
Start of Year Mid-Year End of Year
Addition: 35 per minute Addition: 35 per minute Addition: 35 per minute
Subtraction: 35 per minute Subtraction: 35 per minute Subtraction: 35 per minute
Multiplication: 35 per minute Multiplication: 35 per minute Multiplication: 35 per minute
  Division: 20 per minute Division: 35 per minute
 
Fifth Grade Math Fact Fluency Benchmarks (problems per minute)
Start of Year Mid-Year End of Year
Addition: 35 per minute Addition: 40 per minute Addition: 40 per minute
Subtraction: 35 per minute Subtraction: 40 per minute Subtraction: 40 per minute
Multiplication: 35 per minute Multiplication: 40 per minute Multiplication: 40 per minute
Division: 35 per minute Division: 40 per minute Division: 40 per minute

 Math Fact Fluency Assessment

Use this printable packet of free math fact fluency assessments to test your students’ skill levels relative to  the above benchmarks. This will give you a clear idea of your students’ fluency and where there is room for opportunity.

Rocket Math’s assessment packet includes a writing speed test, which helps create realistic expectations for individual students. Using the goal sheet ensures you will evaluate the individual student math fact fluency in light of their writing speed.

Rate students as:

  1. Weak, needs fact work
  2. Good, but fact work could help
  3. Strong, fact work not needed

Special triage priority: if you have fourth-grade students and above, start with multiplication facts. Multiplication facts are essential to future success in math above fourth grade. Even if fourth graders are counting on their fingers for addition and subtraction, teach multiplication mastery first. If fourth graders move to the next grade without strong multiplication fact fluency, they will have a hard time successfully progressing through math.

 

The Best Tools for Developing Math Fact Fluency

With the right tools, any student can develop math fact fluency and have fun while doing it! Students use Rocket Math’s Subscription Worksheet Program to practice with partners, then take timed tests. Rocket Math also offers math facts practice online through the Rocket Math Online Game. Students can log in and play from any device, anywhere, any time of day! Start a free trial today. 

Both the worksheet program and the online game help students master addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division math facts for a lifetime of success in math.