How best to do peer teaching?

Why use peer teaching?

Compared to one teacher talking and a classful of students listening, peer teaching can greatly increase student engagement, and can massively increase time-on-task. Listening to a room full of students working together, practicing, and learning in pairs can be a thing of joy. If it is done right, there is nothing more effective for student learning. Research has shown that not only the student rehearsing but also his partner, the student checking the facts, learns from the process. Because all students can be fully engaged, a lot of practice can be accomplished in a short amount of time. However, sessions have to be structured carefully, and the task has to be something that lends itself to peer teaching.

What tasks lend themselves to peer teaching?

Peer teaching can’t work if neither student knows the material to be learned. You’ll have paired activities, but it won’t enhance or develop learning. Tasks that involve practice and review of previously taught material do lend themselves to peer teaching. Even better are tasks in which one student can have the answer key. You can be sure the correct answers are being learned with an answer key. Being corrected when you make an error is a key to learning, and that is not likely to happen without an answer key. The Rocket Math Worksheet Program is a good example of peer teaching. It involves paired practice of math facts, where one student practices and the other checks on an answer key.

How do you set up peer partners?

If you want to accomplish learning rather than facilitate socializing, you must set up peer partners. There is a saying, “Water seeks its own level.” This is definitely true of student pairs. Left to their own devices, the hard-working, conscientious students will pair up; unfortunately, the goof-offs will also pair up. And they won’t get anything accomplished. If you have an activity where it doesn’t matter what they accomplish, then it’s fine to let students pick their partners. But when you want them to be on-task and learning from the activity, you must set the partners.

Order your class list by focus and responsibility from top to bottom, then divide the list in half. Match the second half with the first half so that top students go with middle students and middle students go with bottom students. (See the picture to the right to get the idea.)

You want to have a responsible, on-task type student in each pair. You can avoid bitter enemies or students who have had problems in the past. But you do not need to match students up with their friends. They are here to practice, not to socialize. Also, do not give in to students who complain about their partners. Tell them “This is going to give you a chance to practice your ‘niceness skills’ which are important to learn. Even if you don’t like them, just do your work and practice your ‘niceness skills.'”

If you do have a volatile situation, you can change the partners, but be sure to change several pairs to obscure the real reason for the change. If students realize they can get out of having a partner by creating a bunch of drama, you’re in for a long year.

How do you avoid a lot of time lost in transition?

Once you’ve set up the partners, you have to set up a routine for “getting with your partner.” You can have a bunch of different solutions for getting with your partner. Some students may just turn around, while others bring a chair, and still others meet at a different part of the classroom. You need to explain to each student in each pair how they will “get with your partner.” 

Then once you have established that, you need to practice several times in row, “getting with your partner.” You want them to move smoothly and quickly, arriving with the correct materials and getting ready to begin immediately. Students must practice this several times, and perhaps a couple of days in a row. You want to stress that this should happen quickly and quietly. This is not a time to catch up with your friends or visit a new part of the classroom. Prompt the students with something like this, “Getting with your partner should happen how, everybody?” Students should answer with, “Quickly and quietly.” Then consider timing the transition to go for a record. You will be amazed at how quickly this can happen if everyone is focused, and a routine has been established. When you have quick and quiet transitions in your room, that’s the mark of a real pro!

How can you ensure effective practice and corrections?

You are going to have to teach an explicit set of procedures to students, so they know how to engage with each other. You will need to explain how to practice as well as how to correct errors. Then after teaching the correction procedure, you will need to make ALL of your students model the correction procedure. You do this by role-playing yourself as a student and calling on students to be your tutor/checker while everyone listens. Then you role-play making errors, so your tutor/checker can model the correction procedure. This lets you know if students are ready to work in pairs because they have demonstrated the correct procedures working with you.  Rocket Math its own script which you can use for how to get your students to model corrections. 

How do you keep the students on-task?

You must make the activity into an “endless task” that can continue until you say stop. That way, everyone must keep working, and there’s no excuse to stop. If there is an acceptable reason to stop working, e.g., “We’re done,” then students will stop working. When students can finish a task, they will. What’s more, they will say they are finished (because you can’t tell) even when they are not. Some pairs may never begin. You want a situation where everyone has to be working all the time, so you can have the same expectation for everyone the whole time. This is the reason students practice facts in Rocket Math in a circle, so they just keep practicing around and around until the teacher says stop. That’s an “endless” task, which is key to keeping students on task.  

You have to actively monitor the whole-time peers are practicing with each other.

Unfortunately, this is not a good time to get the attendance roster turned in. Or catch up on grading. You must treat this as an important activity if you want the students to do the same. You need to circulate among the students the whole time. You’ll need to bend down to get your ear next to their practicing so you can hear what is actually going on. You’ll be looking for student pairs that are following the approved (and modeled) correction procedure. When you hear that, stand up and publicly praise that pair so everyone can hear. “Wow, I just heard Tom and Betty doing a perfect correction procedure. They are really going to learn this material well. They are putting forth a real college effort.” Of course, if students are not on-task, be sure to remind them, and circle back to that pair soon, so they can redeem themselves by getting back on task.

How do you handle student disputes and controversy?

When a pair of students come up with a complaint, you can’t adjudicate it because you weren’t there! Therefore, repeat this mantra, “The checker is always right.” Then every time there is a dispute, repeat your mantra, “The checker is always right.” That means the checker’s ruling decides the issue, and you won’t overrule the checker, no matter how eloquent the complaint. If you keep saying the same thing all the time, like a broken record, students will come to realize you’re just going to say, “The checker is always right.” They will soon stop complaining altogether. Which will be a thing of beauty when it happens.

Peer teaching is only effective if managed well.

As you can see from the foregoing, there are several key management strategies that you need to employ to make peer teaching effective. 

  • You need to have the right kind of task assigned and to provide answer keys. 
  • You must set up the peer partners so that you have at least one conscientious worker in each pair. 
  • You need to establish a routine and speedy transition for students to “get with their partner” for peer teaching to begin. 
  • You need to teach students how to correct errors and ensure they’ve learned the procedure by making them model it.  
  • You must set up the task to be “endless” so that no students can get off-task because they are “done.”
  • You must actively monitor student engagement the whole time they are working. Actively monitoring means walking around, listening to them work, and loudly praising those who are doing it right. 
  • And finally, you have to teach them the mantra, “The checker is always right,” to settle disagreements and controversies. 

If you do this right, it will become your favorite time of the day. I know because it always was for me. 

To learn more teaching strategies to incorporate into your class, read my Teaching Strategie blog posts. From benchmarks to worksheets for kindergarteners, Rocket Math has all the tools to help push your students to success!

 

 

 

 

Teacher-led instruction for mastery at the kindergarten level

A note about teacher led instruction at the kindergarten level 

Two Learning Tracks in the Rocket Math Worksheet Program, Beginning Numerals and Conceptual Addition, are teacher led instruction. At the kindergarten level teacher led instruction is generally only successful if done in small groups.  Kindergarteners do not pay good attention to whole class instruction, and so will make errors because of inattention to the lesson and directions, rather than confusion about the concepts.  The worksheets in these programs are very straightforward so that students will be able to do them successfully if they are paying attention to the teacher “I do” and “We do” portions of the lesson.  Successful instruction is dependent upon the teacher having the attention of ALL the students while doing the “I do” and “We do” parts of the lesson, which is much easier in small groups.

The goal is that all the students in the group do it 100% correctly. If more than 1/4 of the students in the group make confused errors (wrong answers), the teacher should re-do the sheet as a group the next day.  And keep doing that until fewer than 1/4 make errors.

If fewer than 1/4 of the group are making errors, then the teacher should give those students remedial help and bring them to mastery before moving the whole group on to the next worksheet.  By working with only the confused sub-group, the teacher is better able to make sure they are attending to the instruction.  The teacher should lead instruction and re-do the worksheet with the confused sub-group until they come to mastery too, before reforming the group and moving on.

Ideally, the teacher could work with the confused sub-group immediately after the lesson or later the same day to clarify their misunderstanding quickly.  If not, then work with the smaller sub-group to have them re-do the worksheet at the same time the next day, while the successful students do something else.

Most of the time, if mastery is fully achieved (100% correct doing the independent work independently) then the next worksheet will be able to be brought to mastery without extra sessions.  This is why the 100% criteria for all students is stated at the top.  However, regrouping may be necessary if some students consistently require multiple times through the worksheet to come to mastery (and should be in a different group) while others can do it easily in one session.

Counting Objects Worksheets for Kindergarten | Do They Work?

Much is made in teacher education classes about the importance of counting real objects vs pictures, but there is little empirical evidence to support this concern. What is much more important is for the counting to be first demonstrated by the teacher. The second most important thing is to be able to ensure that students focus on the right number of objects. These are very hard to do with manipulatives.

How to use counting objects worksheets in the classroom

Worksheets can ensure that students are focused on the right number of objects while the teacher demonstrates the counting exercise. Manipulatives, not so much! I have seen counting exercises (of manipulatives) lead students seriously wrong. Some students have the wrong number of manipulatives in front of them as the counting ensues while others change the amount during the exercise.

Step 1–the “I do” step: Always begin with a teacher demonstration

 

A screenshot of the Beginning Numerals Worksheet A with six boxes with images of frogs, hands, or dice in each.

Here is part of the Rocket Math–Beginning Numerals Learning Track: Worksheet A. This shows the top part of the worksheet which is the “I do” or teacher demonstration part of the worksheet. The teaching suggestion for the “I do” step for the teacher reads as follows:

Using the six boxes at the top of each worksheet, model how to touch
and count the items in each box–then show the students that the correct
answer is circled. Have them touch the circled number. Confirm the
name of the numeral. Check to see that all students are touching it.

At a small table for instruction, the teacher could hold the worksheet up on a clipboard, or for a larger group, a document camera would be needed. The teacher gets all eyes on the demonstration and then models touching and counting. Skilled kindergarten teachers know to be quick, perky, and interesting to keep their students attention. Here’s the recommended narration:

I can do this. Watch me count. One, two, three.
There are three frogs in this box. So they circled the three.
Touch here where the three is circled next to the three frogs. Good.
How many were in this box, everybody? Yes, three.
Now watch me do the next box.

Watch me count. One, two,.
There are two frogs in this box. So they circled the two.
Touch here where the two is circled next to the two frogs. Good.
How many were in this box, everybody? Yes, two.
Now watch me do the next box.

Step 2–the “We Do” step: Lead the students to make the correct responses

Once kindergarteners can say the numbers by rote, the hard part is to develop the one-to-one correspondence between the words and the touching. This is much more difficult to do correctly than you might think. For starters, counting to ten by rote may seem like to little ones like a couple of long words, “Onetwothreefourfive sixseveneightnineten.” To teach them to touch each object and say only one word for each, the task must be done together, slowly and correctly, many times.

We Do: Touch and count. Start at zero and count each star

Screenshot of the star system starting with 0 and going up to 3.

We Do: Narration to Count Objects in an Image

Every worksheet in the Rocket Math Beginning Numerals Learning Track has a “We Do” activity of counting stars.  Here’s the recommended narration for the counting star’s activity pictured above entitled “We Do:”

Our ‘We Do’ says to touch and count. Start at zero and count each star.
We are going to touch and count the stars. Put your counting finger on zero,
everybody. We are going to start at zero and count each star. Let’s count.
One, two, three. We counted three stars. That was great!
Let’s do it again! Fingers on zero, everybody. Let’s count. One…

It doesn’t take much imagination to see that students will get this counting exercise right with the teacher’s help. If not on the first pass, by the third time, students will be correctly counting the stars. This counting exercise occurs on every worksheet in this Learning Track and gradually builds to counting up to 12 stars.

 

Step 3–the “You Do” step: Students demonstrate their learning

Screenshot of Rocket Math's Counting Objects worksheet showing 15 boxes all with their own images, then two numbers next to the images for students to choose from.

In the “You Do” portion of Worksheet A of the Rocket Math Beginning Numerals Learning Track (see above) it asks students to count the objects and select, rather than produce or write, the correct number for the number of objects they see in the box. This is identical to the teacher demonstration exercise at the top of the worksheet. The teacher has demonstrated how to do this task already. Students just need to remember that from the demonstration a few minutes prior.

Students are asked to make that distinction, to choose between two and three, by circling the right one–as was done in the top six boxes in the teacher demonstration part of the worksheet. The demonstration answers at the top of the worksheet will be available for students to use as a model of the correct answer. Students learn from practicing the correct answer rather than from practicing errors, so error-free work is the goal.

Benefits of using counting objects worksheets for kindergarten

Counting objects worksheets can focus on one thing to learn at a time

In the “I do” worksheet demonstration, the teacher is helping students develop one discrimination and one only.  The task is learning to discriminate between counting two objects vs. counting three objects. The three different pictures demonstrate this; frogs, dice, and fingers. It becomes clear that the job is to get it right, to be able to tell the difference between two and three–that’s all. Students can learn one distinction like this with a high level of success.  The worksheet allows the teacher to move back and forth between two objects and three objects quickly.  Imagine how chaotic that would be to accomplish with manipulatives!

Counting objects worksheets can transition students to fingers and lines

Many lists of objectives include counting objects to 20. While the ability to count things up to 20 is important, that’s a lot of pictures. It is very easy to make a mistake in counting. It is much preferable to transition students to counting fingers, up to 10, and then to lines for numbers up to 20. A good worksheet program should include from the beginning pictures of fingers and lines to count instead of just cute objects. By introducing fingers and lines from the beginning, students will find it easy to transition to using only fingers or lines later.

Worksheets can properly space out the objects to be counted

A common issue in counting objects is to have the objects spaced far enough apart so that students are reliably not touching the same object twice in a row. In the “We do” portion of the worksheet, pictured above, it is clear that students will succeed by beginning with three stars spaced far enough apart that students have to move their fingers to count the next star. They won’t be confused as they can be by counting objects that are too close together.

A worksheet can establish a starting point for fingers before counting begins

Another problem in teaching counting is that students often begin counting by touching one of the objects they are counting. Then to begin counting they move to the second object and count, “One.” The end result will be off by one. Students must be taught to start with their counting finger somewhere else, and then move to the first object to be counted while saying, “One.” The Rocket Math Beginning Numerals (counting objects) worksheets always have students start with their finger on “zero,” which is pretty useful as a starting place. That’s where you start before you begin counting.  I expect the savvy teacher will be saying, as students are getting their fingers ready to count, “We are touching the zero.  Have we counted any stars yet? No!  So we have counted ZERO stars.  That’s why we are touching the zero.”

A worksheet can allow students to choose the correct answer rather than produce it

Counting worksheets that begin by requiring students to produce, or write, the numeral of the answer are asking too much of beginning students. When the written answer is wrong the teacher has no way of diagnosing whether the student counted incorrectly or forgot how to write the numeral. Much better to begin by having students select the correct answer from a limited number of choices. Teaching students (1) how to write numerals and then (2) write them from dictation are two different skills that should be taught in different instruction.

Worksheets can limit displays to numbers the students have learned.

Another advantage of worksheets is the ability to limit the examples to numbers of objects that students have already learned. When a teacher allows students to use manipulatives the ability to control the number of objects to count is lost. Instead, as shown in the “You Do” portion of Worksheet A, shown above, students only need to be able to distinguish two objects from three objects.

By having the answers present to choose from, the worksheet limits the distinctions that the students need to make. Many beginning kindergarteners confuse 4 and 5 early on. Therefore that distinction, between 4 and 5, should not be required until 1, 2, 3, and 4 are well established and at mastery. You see here on Worksheet A students are only required to distinguish between 2 and 3 objects. They make the same distinction between several examples of different objects.

Rocket Math Beginning Numerals (counting objects) worksheets will start kindergarten students out successfully

The Beginning Numerals Worksheets is the first of over 25 math worksheet Learning Tracks available as part of the Rocket Math Worksheet Universal Level Subscription. See all the other Learning Tracks available in the Worksheet Program. Go here to get a 60-day trial subscription for $15 with a money-back satisfaction guaranteed offer direct from the author, Dr. Don

 

 

 

 

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:

2nd Grade Math Games to Teach Math Facts

What Math Facts Should Students Know By 2nd Grade?

Students entering 2nd grade should have memorized basic addition facts to a high level of fluency. There should be no hesitations and no finger counting. But not every first-grade teacher has the skill or tools to help students effectively memorize addition facts.  Attempting to teach subtraction facts and the process of subtraction to students who did not successfully memorize addition is VERY difficult. Like, so hard as to cause tears, and not just from the students! Rocket Math offers 2nd grade math worksheets and 2nd grade math games.

 

What is Covered in 2nd Grade Math?

In 2nd grade, teachers need to help students master at least four math skills in three steps. It’s important that 2nd graders learn these skills in the correct order because each step is dependent on the completion of the prior step. 

 

Step 1. Fully memorize addition facts.

Second-grade teachers must ensure that students have fully memorized the basic addition facts. Most 2nd grade math games will not accomplish this goal. Memorizing addition facts early in the year is crucial because the class needs time to do the next two steps during the year. For this reason, the 2nd-grade teacher needs a systematic, effective, and efficient math facts learning curriculum, such as Rocket Math. If the 2nd-grade teacher is lucky, that was accomplished during first grade. If it was not, it still must be done. 

 

Step 2. Master addition computation while memorizing subtraction facts.

Second-grade teachers must ensure that students master addition computation up to three digits. If students are automatic with the addition facts, this process becomes easy and fun for students. Rocket Math’s Learning Addition Computation worksheet program is a systematic way of teaching computation skills. 

The 2nd grade teacher also needs to help their students memorize basic subtraction facts. Learning subtraction facts should not be attempted until students have memorized addition facts fully. Because time is of the essence, a teaching tool with a systematic method of teaching facts efficiently and effectively is needed. Rote memorization is the best method. However, the teacher can have students work on memorizing subtraction facts while working on addition computation. 

Step 3. Master subtraction computation.

Second-grade teachers must ensure that students master subtraction computation up to three digits, with and without regrouping. If students are automatic with the subtraction facts, this process becomes easy and fun. Rocket Math’s Learning Subtraction Computation worksheet program is a systematic way of teaching computation skills. 

What Should 2nd Graders Know Before Entering 3rd Grade Math?

Before going into 3rd-grade, students should be able to read and write numbers up to 1,000 and have developed a comfortable number sense of numbers up to 100. 2nd graders need to memorize addition and subtraction facts and be comfortable completing addition and subtraction computations. Before 3rd grade, 2nd graders need to start learning how to skip count as a precursor to learning multiplication and have learned the concept of multiplication (be able to figure out a multiplication fact). Rocket Math has a worksheet-based version of Skip Counting that students enjoy. They also sell Skip Counting Flashcards, which I’ve never seen anywhere else. 

Rocket Math 2nd Grade Math Worksheets & 2nd Grade Math Game

Both Rocket Math Worksheet Program and Rocket Math Online Game are great tools that will help students learn their math facts. Each program has a different way of teaching, but the idea and ultimate goal for both are the same; students learn math fact fluency and can recall answers instantly. Teachers can choose one or both of these programs to help their 2nd grade students be successful in math.

H3: 2nd Grade Math Worksheets

Students practice math facts using the Rocket Math Worksheet program.

The Rocket Math Worksheet Program is uniquely effective by using paired practice and having students saying the facts aloud. Students partner up and practice quickly recalling facts together. One student reads the problems and answers from memory. The checker watches for when their partner hesitates to answer. He or she then gives his or her partner more opportunities to practice the “hesitant” facts.

 

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

 

Learn Addition and Subtraction facts with  these Worksheet Programs for 2nd Graders

For 2nd Grade math students, it’s essential that they master addition math facts and begin learning subtraction math facts. Here are the addition and subtraction fact Worksheet Programs 2nd graders will need to work through. They are listed in the order of priority.  Few students will finish all six in one year, but the more they accomplish the better they will know these facts.

 

(1) Addition (1s to 9s) (3) Fact Families (+, -) to 10 (5) Add to 20 

(e.g., 13+6, 4+11, 15+5)

(2) Subtraction (1s to 9s) (4) Fact Families (+, -) from 11 (6) Subtract from 20 (e.g., 18-15, 15-5, 19-8)

 

Rocket Math Online Game

Students and teacher playing multiplication games with dice sitting in a circle in a classroom

In addition to worksheets, schools of education tell teachers to use games to “teach” math facts. Unfortunately, most games and fun activities do not help individual students learning math facts to the level of fluency. These games, such as bingo or dice, have several problems:

  •  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 behind are less likely to participate.

Rocket Math Online Game is an Effective Way to Teach Math Fact Fluency

Student holding tablet with a math fact fluency app by Rocket Math

Unlike card or dice games, some online math games 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 —not waiting for a turn.
  2. Students learn only a few facts at a time, enabling memorization and recall.
  3. The game provides lots of focused practice on each set of facts. 
  4. Students only get enough time to use recall to come up with the answers.
  5. The game gives an immediate correction and extra practice on any facts that students cannot answer quickly.
  6. The game only introduces new facts once students demonstrate mastery of prior facts.
  7. The game gives students explicit feedback so they have a sense of accomplishment.

 

Learn Addition and Subtraction facts with  these Online Game Learning Tracks for 2nd Graders

Compared to the Worksheet Program, the Online Game moves students through the Learning Tracks much faster–in a few weeks, rather than months. Therefore you can send every one of the same age through in the same order. For 2nd graders, this is the online game learning track recommended by Rocket Math:

  • Addition (1s – 9s)
  • Subtraction (1s – 9s)
  • Fact Families (+, -) to 10.
  • Fact Families (+, -) from 11.
  • Add to 20.
  • Subtract from 20.

2nd grade math games are a great way to teach students their addition and subtraction facts. Just be sure to find ones like Rocket Math that understand the importance of fact fluency and instant recall. 

Rocket Math’s Foolproof Method to Finding Factors (A.K.A. Factor Pairs)

In order for a student to expand or reduce fractions or to add and subtract unlike fractions, they need to know how to find factors for each number in the fraction. Students may know multiplication facts, but still, find it difficult to come up with all the possible factor pairs for a given number. The key to helping students with this task is to teach students a systematic method of identifying all factor pairs and then committing both the process and some common numbers to memory.  

Both the Rocket Math Online Game and Worksheet Program uses a foolproof, systematic method for teaching students how to find all the factors of a number. By reading this article, you’ll learn what factors are, how to help students find all the factors systematically, and how both the game and worksheets incorporate the method into each program.

 

What are Factors of a Number

Factors of a number, such as 12, are pairs of whole numbers whose product is that number. For example, 2 x 6 = 12, 12 is the product, and the factor pair is 2 x 6. Other factor pairs for 12 include 1 x 12 and 3 x 4 because multiplied together, each of those factor pairs equals 12. 

 

Finding Factors: How do You Know When You Have Found all of them?

Identifying some of the factors of a target number isn’t hard, but knowing when you have accounted for ALL the factors can be hard for students. Rocket Math’s Worksheet Program helps students find and memorize all the factors for 22 common numbers. Watch this video to see how Dr. Don uses the worksheet program to teach students how to find all of a number’s factors in a systematic way.

Worksheet finding the factors of the number 15.

  1. The best method for teaching students how to find factor pairs is to have them start at 1 and work their way up. Give your students a target number and ask them to put “1 x” below it. Let them fill in the right side with the number itself. We know that any number has one “factor pair” of 1 times itself. 
  2. Then ask them to move on to 2, and ask themselves, “What number times 2 equals the target number?” If the target number is even, there will be a number on the right-hand side of that pair. If the target number is odd (like 15), there won’t be, and the student should cross out the 2, as it is not a factor of the target number.
  3. Next, the student moves on to 3. They ask themselves, “What number times 3 equals 15?” Because 3 x 5 equals 15, students write 5 down because that is the next factor pairing 15. 
  4. Next, students move on to 4. They ask themselves, “What number times 4 equals 15?” When students run across a number that is not a factor of the target number, they should cross it out. So they cross out the 4.
  5. The next number is 5, but it is already showing on the right side of the factor pairs. When that happens, students can be sure they have found all the factor pairs of the target number.

In the end, students will be left with a list of factor pairs that multiply to create the target and a list of crossed-out numbers that are not factors.

 

Rocket Math Online Game – Finding Factors & Primes Track

Building on what the Worksheet Program has to offer students, Learning Track #15 (Factors & Primes) of the Rocket Math Online Game helps students systematically identify, practice, and memorize factor pairs of every number from 2 through 40 and 42, 45, 48, 49, 50, 64, 72, 75, and 100.

 

Students answer with the NEXT factor pair in order

Example of Rocket Math's Finding Factors worksheet.The Learning Track Factors and Primes has a unique way of teaching students the factors. Students learn the factor pairs, in order, starting with 1 and itself. For example the factor pairs of 36, in order, are 1 x 36, 2 x 18, 3 x 12, 4 x 9 and 6 x 6.   Students are shown some factor pairs in the display (see problems displayed in N.1 through O.1). They must either enter the next factor pair in order or hit the checkmark if there are no more pairs. You can see the five problems that deal with the factors of 36 that students encounter in the Factors and Primes Learning Track.  

When students see problem N.1 displaying “Factors of 36, 1 x 36” they learn that the next factor pair is 2 x 18, so they enter a 2, a 1, and an 8, and the game displays them as shown.  If the student does not enter the next correct factor pair, the game’s audio voice recording (called Mission Control) says, “The factors of 36, in order, are 1 times 36 then, 2 times 18. Go again.” The game then provides an opportunity to answer that problem again, twice, and then interspersed with other problems, twice more before the game considers that pair of factors learned.    

When students see problem O.1 they see all the factor pairs of 36 displayed. They know that they have all the factor pairs because the same number is in the left-hand column and the right-hand column. Students are to hit the checkmark √, to indicate there are no more factor pairs. The game’s audio voice recording correction is, “There are no more factors of 36. Just hit the checkmark. Go again.”

 

Prime numbers

An example of the Rocket Math's Finding Prime numbers worksheet.Any of the numbers that students learn are prime numbers will begin with the first factor pair of 1 times the number itself. For example, in problem, O.2 students see “Factors of 37. 1 x 37.”  Students are to hit the checkmark to indicate that a number is a prime number.  The game’s audio voice correction is, “37 is a prime number because its only factors are 1 times itself. Just hit the checkmark. Go again.”  In this manner, students learn all the prime numbers from 2 to 40 in this Learning Track.  

Students should learn their multiplication and division facts first before working on Factors and Primes. Once those are mastered in the Online Game, students who are already trying to find the greatest common denominators in working with fractions the Factors & Primes Learning Track will help them greatly.  They will exit knowing the factor pairs of these most common numbers and they will find this work much easier.

 

Make finding factors easier (and more fun!) for your students with Rocket Math

With Rocket Math’s Factor Worksheet and the Online Game, your students can say goodbye to slow progress and hit-and-miss strategies. The Worksheet and Online Game can be used separately or in tandem for extra practice.

Get Rocket Math’s Factor Worksheet!   

Try Learning Track #15 (Factors & Primes) of the Rocket Math Online Game for Free!

 

In What Order Should Students Learn Math Facts?

Learn the Basics (add, subtract, multiply, divide) first.

 

Basic, optional, and alternative—there are a lot of different Rocket Math programs to help students learn math facts. A common question teachers ask is in what sequence should they teach the various Rocket Math programs? The basic programs of Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division (1s-9s) have priority and must be mastered by all students. Addition in the first grade. Addition and Subtraction in the second grade. Multiplication (as well as Addition and Subtraction) by the third grade. Then, all four, including Division by fourth grade. If a student is on track, those basics have first priority.

 

Optional programs if the basics are already on track

 

The rest of the programs are optional and should be offered to students once the basics have been mastered and only then. The only exception would be in a school where Kindergarteners did not get a chance to learn how to quickly and easily write numerals, through using the Rocket Writing for Numerals program. In that case, you might take the first two months of the first grade year to run students through Rocket Writing for Numerals before beginning Addition (1s-9s).

Here’s a link to a printable version of the graphic above.

 

First-grade Students Should Learn Addition Facts

 

Students practicing their math facts together.If first-grade students are taking all year to get through sets A-Z in Addition, they need some extra help. You should intervene to help students who take more than a week to pass a level. Often they need to practice better or with a better partner, and some may need to practice a second time during the day or at home in the evening. 

Another intervention would be to use Rocket Math Online Game for Addition facts, as students seem to progress much more quickly in the online game.  The Online Game has an adjustable game speed for first-grade students who are having trouble (their difficulty score is over 3) moving their fingers fast enough. First-grade students who finish the 1s-9s can move on to the Add to 20 programs for the remainder of the year.

 

Second-grade Students Must Know Both Addition & Subtraction Facts

 

The Rocket Math Online Game Additions fact family example page.

Second-grade students must have completed Addition before starting on Subtraction (1s-9s).  They can also test out of Addition through the Placement Probes which are available within the Addition drawer in the Rocket Math Worksheet program virtual filing cabinet. Addition has priority for second graders who can not test out of Addition in first grade or didn’t complete it in first grade. Only after getting through Set Z of Addition should they move into Subtraction. Second-grade students who complete Addition and Subtraction 1s-9s can move on to Subtract from 20. Students who finish Subtract from 20 can do Skip Counting, which does a great job of preparing students to learn Multiplication facts.

 

Fact Families is Another Way to Learn Addition & Subtraction Math Facts

 

 

A chart showing the Addition and Subtraction fact family of 2, 3, and 5.There is another way to learn facts, which is called Fact Families. Instead of learning all Addition facts, students can learn Addition and Subtraction facts at the same time. A fact family consists of four related facts, for example: 3+2 = 5, 2 + 3 = 5, 5 – 3 = 2, 5 – 2 = 3.  

 

It is challenging for students to switch between Addition and  Subtraction. But it does drive home the reciprocal nature of the two. There is no evidence that it is better to learn in fact families than it is to separate the operations. That’s why we offer both alternatives. Students can learn fact families up to 10 in first grade. Then the upper fact families, from 11 in second grade.

 

Third-grade Students Must Learn Multiplication Facts

 

In third grade, Multiplication has priority, even if students have not mastered Addition and Subtraction. Multiplication facts are so integral to the rest of higher math that students are even more crippled without Multiplication facts than they are having to count Addition and Subtraction problems on their fingers. So do Multiplication first, then if there’s time, students who need to can go back to master Addition and Subtraction.

 As in Addition and Subtraction, students can learn Multiplication and Division by fact families. In third grade, just the fact families through 20 need to be mastered. Once all three of these basic operations are under their belt students can go on to 10s, 11s, 12s in Multiplication. If that is done and there is still some school year left I’d recommend the Identifying Fractions program next followed by Factors.

 

Fourth-grade Students Should Know Both Multiplication and Division Facts

Effective math teaching strategies help students of all levels be successful at math.

Fourth-grade students need to have completed Multiplication before going on to Division.  They can also do Fact Families for Multiplication and Division, starting with facts to 20 and then part two is fact families from 21 on. If they complete Multiplication and Division, they should go back and do Addition and Subtraction. If those are not mastered, either straight up by operation or in families. Then students can go on to Identifying Fractions, then Factors, then Equivalent Fractions. They can go on to 10s, 11s, 12s Division, but it is less valuable than the pre-algebra skills of factors and fractions.

 

Fifth-grade Students & Up Need to Know All Basic Operations First, Then Branch Out

 

Fifth-grade students should have completed all four basic operations (1s-9s). If students have not completed these basics (and cannot test out of them with the Placement Probes), then the sequence they should follow is Multiplication, followed by Division, then go back and complete Addition followed by Subtraction. Again, as an alternative, students can learn the basic facts in families. The same recommendations hold for students in any grade after fifth.

Once students have mastered the basics (1s-9s add, subtract, multiply, divide) the supplemental pre-algebra programs are recommended. These will help more than learning the 10s, 11s, 12s facts. I would recommend this order: Identifying Fractions, then Factors, followed by Equivalent Fractions, followed by Learning to Add Integers, Learning to Subtract Integers, then Mixed Integers.

 

Rocket Math Worksheet & Online Game

 

Learn more about Rocket Math: in just 2 minutes!  Rocket Math has a fun video for you to learn more about how Rocket Math works. Or check out our website at www.rocketmath.com 

Here is a quick and easy chart to help understand which operation/skill students need to learn in which grade level and which Rocket Math Worksheet and Rocket Math Online Game Level they should be at.

Age Grade Operation/Skill Rocket Math Worksheet Rocket Math Online Game Level
5-6 Kindergarten Writing Numerals Beginning Numerals

Rocket Writing for Numerals

In development
6-7 First Writing Numerals

Addition

Rocket Writing for Numerals

Addition 1s through 9s

Fact Families 1 to 10 Add and Subtract

Add to 20

Addition

Fact Families (+, -) to 10

Add to 20

7-8 Second Addition

Subtraction

Addition 1s through 9s

Fact Families 1 to 10 Add and Subtract

Add to 20

Subtraction 1s through 9s

Fact Families 11 to 18 Add & Subtract

Skip Counting

Subtract from 20

Addition

Subtraction

Fact Families (+, -) to 10

Fact Families (+,-) from 11

Add to 20

Subtract from 20 

8-9 Third Multiplication Multiplication 1s to 9s

Multiplication 10s, 11s, 12s

Identify Fractions

Multiplication

Fact Families (x,division) to 20

Multiplication 10s-11s-12s

Identify Fractions

9-10 Fourth Multiplication

Division

Multiplication 1s to 9s

Division 1s through 9s

Multiplication 10s, 11s, 12s

Division 10s, 11s, 12s

Identify Fractions

Equivalent Fractions

Factors

Multiplication

Division

Fact Families (x,division) to 20

Fact Families (x, division) from 21

Multiplication 10s-11s-12s

Division 10s-11s-12s

Identify Fractions

Equivalent Fractions

Factors & Primes

10+ Fifth and up All Basic Operations

Fractions

Positive/Negative Numbers

Basic Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division

Equivalent Fractions

Factors

Learning to Add Integers

Learning to Subtract Integers

Mixed Integers

Basic Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division 

Identify Fractions,

Equivalent Fractions,

Factors & Primes,

Fraction & Decimal Equivalents (coming soon)

 

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.  

Writing Numbers Backward: Why Kids Do It & How To Help

The group “The Who” was correct when it comes to kids writing their numbers backward: The kids are alright.  Children writing their numbers backward is not something to worry about. It is natural and expected. But it must also be fixed.  With instruction and encouragement, all children can learn to write their numbers correctly with ease. 

Why Do Kids Write Numbers Backward?

A chair mirrored is still a chair, while a seven mirrored is not the same to help children who are writing numbers backwards.

For the first several years of our lives, we learn that “orientation-in-space” does not change an object’s identity. Turn a chair any which way, and it is still a chair. We learn this lesson well enough that we stop paying attention to an object’s orientation in space.

So, it is not surprising that kids sometimes write their numbers backward. It would be more surprising if they never did. Students need to learn to write certain symbols to face a specific direction.

 

What Does it Mean When Kids Write Numbers Backward?

When children write their numbers backward, they are mirror writing their letters or numbers backward or upside down. They need to learn that while a chair may be mirrored and is still a chair, a 7 mirrored is no longer a 7.

Is it Normal for a Child to Write Numbers Backward?

Students work with together to learn how to write their numbers.It’s perfectly normal for kids to write numbers backward. Some kids will even write from right to left, reversing all their numbers. It’s important for children to learn how numbers face, but don’t feel you must prevent your kid from writing this way or make them instantly correct it. Instead, you want to tell them that it is “better” or “more grown-up” to make the number face this direction. It will take time and gentle reminders.

Writing Numbers Backward in Kindergarten at Age 5 & 6

At age 5 and 6, it’s normal for kids to write numbers backward. But it is still important to begin working with them to understand which way numbers face. It may still seem random at age 5, but focusing on encouraging them that it’s better to write numbers “the smart way” will be effective.

 

Writing Numbers Backward at age 7 & 8

At age 7, students who are still writing their letters backward may have started a bad habit that’ll take a good bit of practice to break. If beyond age 7, a student is still writing their numbers backward or upside down, this could be a sign that they are having difficulty with reading or language. This is NOT a sign of dyslexia.

 

Is Writing Numbers Backward a Sign of Dyslexia?

A chair mirrored is still a chair, but a d reversed turns into a b.

Writing numbers backward isn’t a sign of dyslexia. Dyslexia is a reading disorder that involves problems identifying speech sounds and how they relate to letters and words. Writing backward is a sign of not learning which way symbols face.

It’s common, however, for students with difficulties learning to read to continue reversing their letters such as b and d. Reversing “b” and “d” has the same cause as writing numbers backward: learning that orientation in space does matter. However, when it comes to “b” and “d,” the reversal is actually “that other letter” and isn’t just “backward.” The distinction between which is b and which is d is somewhat harder for children to learn. Students who have problems with hearing the sounds in words (called phonemic awareness) will find it harder to remember which letter is in which word. But, even children with dyslexia can learn to read; it just takes more focused instruction.

 

Do Kids Grow Out of Writing Numbers Backward?

It’s important for children to learn to write symbols in a certain way and why by a teacher and or parents. It helps to have someone tell them when they have written a number backward and to reinforce them when they get it right. Some children notice this without much prompting, so we say they “grew” out of it. But really, they just learned it on their own. If you want them to be successful, don’t hesitate to help them learn to write their letters and numbers correctly. Be nice and supportive, but do give clear information.A mom congratulates her son at a baseball game.

How Can I Help my Child if they are Writing Numbers Backward?

An example worksheet from Rocket Math with an example of a 7 at the top to help kids who are writing numbers backwards..

The best way to help is to make an example of “the way it is supposed to face” on any paper before your child starts working. Say something like, “See if you can make all your sevens face this way. It is hard, but you might be able to do it.” Your child can then check each time he or she writes the number to make sure they are making it face the same way as your example.

By the way, writing “7” a hundred times won’t help because after the first one it is just doing the same thing over and over. The issue is remembering which way it has to face when you write it. So having it available as a reference means your child has to remember, “Oops. Which way does a seven face? Oh, that’s how it faces. Hey! I got it right!”

Another powerful way to help is to notice and be impressed when they write their numbers the right way and congratulate them. “Wow! All your sevens on this page are facing the right way. Way to go! You are really learning this.” If you are impressed by their learning, they will be motivated to keep remembering and it will boost their self-esteem.

When Is it Time to Talk to Their Teacher?

If you notice your child is frustrated after school when they were trying to write their numbers, you can bring it up with the teacher at the conference time. Ask them if they are giving your child an example of how to write the number to look at when writing their numbers. But other than consistently helping your child learn the arbitrary rule about which way certain numbers face, there is nothing else the teacher can or should do. Please don’t ask them to “test” your child for dyslexia on account of these backward numbers.

Image of worksheet to help kids who are writing numbers backwords learn to write them correctly.How Can Rocket Math Help?

Rocket Math offers Rocket Writing for Numerals that will help your child learn how to write their numerals correctly. Each worksheet focuses on a group of numbers to show children how to write their numbers in the right direction and with the right form. Learning to write numbers correctly takes time, patience, and encouragement from teachers and parents.

Online Math Drills to Help Develop Math Fact Fluency

What are Math Drills? 

Math drills are exercises given to students that can help improve their speed and ease of recall. The goal of math drills is to help students develop automaticity, allowing them to instantly recall from memory the answer to any math fact. If carefully designed timed math drills can help check which facts the student has learned and which ones the student needs to work on. If not carefully designed, they can be a terror to children. Carefully designed math drills in the elementary grades can smooth the way for easy success later on in math.

Why Is Math Fact Fluency Important? 

Math fact fluency is important because it is the first step to developing automaticity. Automaticity frees up the students’ short term memory for more important questions. It means students can answer basic math facts like 7 x 9 or 4 + 8 instantly, by recall without effort. Students who aren’t fluent in math facts, have to stop and figure out facts, and then won’t be able to focus on higher-order math lessons. This could lead to them missing parts of the instruction.

How Do Online Math Drills Help Children Develop Math Fact Fluency?

Correctly recalling the answer to a math fact strengthens the neural connection between the problem such as 9 plus 7, and its answer, 16. [Note that repeating a fact over and over does not achieve the same result. Finding the answer in memory and producing it is what strengthens that connection.] Math drills that ask students to recall answers to a couple of targeted facts, mixed in with other facts the student already knows, makes those neural connections stronger until they can answer those targeted facts correctly, and eventually without any conscious thought. The curriculum should not go on to target any more new facts to learn until the student is fluent with the ones learned so far. A computer program is able to patiently provide this practice for as long as each student needs, which is wonderful.

Why are Math Tests Timed?

Math tests are timed to tell if students are solving math facts by recall rather than deriving the answer. By timing the tests, teachers can tell which students are able to recall answers instantly and which ones need more help to develop automaticity.

Before I understood this, I made students do pages of mixed math facts, which they did by figuring them out.  However, that practice was not helping them become fluent. Timing those pages of mixed facts would not have helped either. In graduate school, I was taught the learning principles that would help students develop fluency. Students need to focus on a small number of facts so they can recall them. So math drills should be composed of a carefully selected set of facts.  This is the key to the design of Rocket Math and is why it works so well.

What Kind Of Drills Should Your Child Do?

At the very least, your child should learn the basic 1s through 9s math facts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. These will make a huge difference in your child’s success in math. However, if you want to help your child become really proficient and confident in math, there are more things you can drill at each grade level.

Kindergarten Math Drills

Kindergarteners need to be able to count objects as well as rote count. They should practice counting up to 20, at least, and counting by tens to 100. They should learn how to write the numerals and be given drills to practice numeral formation. Obviously this is not something that can be practiced online, but a good writing practice program such as Rocket Writing for Numerals will set your child up for success.

1st Grader Math Drills

In first-grade, learning how to count and write numerals is assumed. The key skill to drill on in first-grade is addition facts 1 through 9. Once those are learned, children can drill on addition facts to 20, such as 13+6, or 4+15. You can also drill first-grade students on fact families, which combine addition and subtraction facts. A fact family example is 3+2, 2+3, 5-2, 5-3. In first-grade fact families (+, -) up to 10 is a reasonable amount to learn.

2nd Grader Math Drills

If addition skills from first-grade are mastered, then drilling on subtraction facts 1s through 9s are the top priority. Once those are learned, students will benefit from drilling up to the 20s in subtraction, such as 17-5 or 19-8. You can also drill second-grade students on fact families, which combine addition and subtraction facts. In second-grade, once fact families up to 10 are mastered, you can drill them on fact families from 11, such as 8+5, 5+8, 13-5, 13-8. Skip counting, or counting by a number (such as by fours- 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40), is useful to learn in second-grade. Also, second-grade is not too soon to begin drilling students on identifying fractions.

3rd Grader Math Drills

Starting in third-grade multiplication facts is essential from this point onward and can’t be counted on fingers. The basic multiplication facts 1 through 9 must be memorized and drills are the only way to do that. Even if addition and subtraction are not yet mastered it is essential to get multiplication facts learned. Then you can go back and pick up addition and subtraction.

Alternatively, or additionally, students can begin drilling on fact families in multiplication and division. An example of this kind of fact family is 4 x5 , 5 x 4, 20 ÷ 4, 20 ÷ 5. Fact families up to 20 are enough in third-grade.

After multiplication facts 1 through 9, you can move on to drilling the 10s-11s-12s. Also, Identifying Fractions is something that third-grade students can become fluent in. Factors (finding all the factors of a number) can be drilled at this grade level or any time in the next three years.

4th Grader Math Drills

In fourth-grade, it is essential that multiplication facts 1s through 9s are in place first before drilling on division facts. Students will quickly realize division facts are just the opposite of multiplication facts. Once division facts 1s through 9s are learned, you should go back and make sure that addition and subtraction are mastered. After addition and subtraction facts are automatic, then start students on multiplication 10s-11s-12s and division 10s-11s-12s. Once all of these are mastered, students can work on either identifying fractions or factors. Another skill that can greatly help students in later grades is memorizing equivalent fractions.

5th Grader Math Drills

Students in fifth-grade or higher should be fluent in all these basic math areas: multiplication (1s through 9s), addition (1s through 9s), subtraction (1s through 9s), and division (1s through 9s). These can be strengthened by doing fact families with each of these operations: fact families (+, -) to 10, fact families (+, -) from 11, fact families (x, ÷) to 20, and fact families (x, ÷) from 21. Once these are done, students can start drilling on factors, identifying fractions, equivalent fractions, then learning to add and subtract integers. Then the students can start multiplication 10s-11s-12s and division 10s-11s-12s. The same sequence applies in any grade after fifth. The more facts learned in math to the level of automaticity, the easier the rest of math will be.

 

How Can Rocket Math Online Game Help Your Child Learn?

The Rocket Math Online Game provides the right amount of drill to help your child learn these basic skills. Providing plenty of practice, it is timed and requires students to recall facts (answering within 3 seconds) before moving on to learn more facts. They work their way up through 26 sets, from Set A to Set Z, learning more facts as they go along. The game provides many milestones of progress, lots of little breaks and congratulations as students progress through the twelve Learning Tracks. You can place your child in these tracks in the order you choose. The Rocket Math Online Game includes the following twelve Learning Tracks.

  1. Addition 1s through 9s
  2. Subtraction 1s through 9s
  3. Multiplication 1s through 9s
  4. Division 1s through 9s
  5. Fact Families (+, -) to 10, ex.4+6, 6+4, 10-4, 10-6
  6. Fact Families (+, -) from 11, ex. 5+6, 6+5, 11-6, 11-5.
  7. Add to 20, example 13+4, 4+13,
  8. Subtract from 20, example 15-3, 15-12,
  9. Multiplication 10s-11s-12s,
  10. Division 10s-11s-12s.
  11. Fact Families (x, ÷) to 20, example 4×5, 5×4, 20÷4, 20÷5
  12. Fact Families (x, ÷) from 21, example 3×7, 7×3, 21÷3, 21÷7

See a video of how it teaches here.

The Rocket Math Worksheet Program also provides math drills

Math drills are important for setting your students up for success later in life. Help them build their automaticity and become fluent in the basic math facts through Rocket Math Worksheet Program. The Rocket Math Worksheet Program includes more Learning tracks than the Online Games and you can use this program to help your students with basic math skills.

Here is a list of the worksheets in the Rocket Math Worksheet Program.