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:

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!

 

The Online Game never teaches anything wrong.

Say, “The game is always right.  Just do the problem over again.”

Teachers write saying their students complain that the Online Game said they were wrong, when they were right.  This is similar to a problem we found with students and their checkers in the Worksheet Program. Bear with me a second while I explain.

In the Worksheet Program students often complain to their teacher that their checker made them do the problem over, even though they weren’t wrong.  Trying to adjudicate such a dispute is nearly impossible, as veteran teachers have learned the hard way.  The extra practice didn’t hurt the students and you’re going to be inundated with complaints if you try to adjudicate them. In workshops we always counseled teachers to respond to such complaints with, “The checker is always right.  Just do the problem over again.”

The extra practice that the Online Game) makes a student do is never harmful.  The problem and the answer that Mission Control gives is never wrong.  When students complain to you about the game telling them a right answer was wrong, just tell the student, “The game is always right. Just do the problem over again.

The Online Game only says right answers, so it’s not wrong.

The correction procedure says both the problem and the correct answer.   Students may say, “But, that’s what I put!” They are not confused. They are just complaining that they were “unjustly” corrected.  An unjust correction is relatively unimportant compared to an actual error.

The program never says a student’s answer is “wrong.”  The game does a correction whenever it does not process the correct answer within the time limit.  The student may hit the correct answer just a fraction of a second too late to be processed by the game. Even though correct, the game will say “Time’s Up” and do a correction.

Sometimes a student misses the button they mean to hit, they make a “typo,” and the game buzzes and the screen shakes “no.” Sometimes, a glitch occurs and it skips ahead to the next problem and processes the last answer as incorrect. However, the game can only say a problem and its correct answer as those are the only words that are recorded.  There are no recorded errors.  For example the game will say, “Six plus two equals eight. Go again.”  After that the game waits for the student to enter the correct answer AND waits for the student to hit the checkmark. No amount of arguing, “But that is what I put!” or “But that wasn’t the problem I was answering” will change it.

The extra practice caused by an “unjust correction” is not harmful.

Students should listen to Mission Control while it is displaying and saying a problem and the correct answer.  Then they will know what they should do. They should just enter the answer and hit the checkmark.  Students should just do the problem over again regardless of whether or not they think they entered the right answer.  The game never says anything incorrect and the extra practice won’t hurt them. While an unjust red “X” for an error seems terrible to students, it will not do anything other than give them more practice, which is good for them.

We  offer a $50 gift certificate to the store of your choice if you can capture an error by the game on video, as we have never seen the game make an error and can’t replicate the problem.

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.

Strategies for teaching automaticity of math facts

Above are students playing our Race for the Stars game.  This game prompts everyone to race against each other and the clock to answer 24 fact problems as fast as they can.  This activity can help develop automaticity of math facts. Not all activities in which students “practice” answering math facts will help develop automaticity.  In fact, a lot of math fact practice activities require students to “figure out” math facts over and over. Automaticity only comes about through recall.  Recall is instantaneous, whereas “figuring out” takes time. All the activities that give students “time” to derive the fact will not help develop automaticity.

What is automaticity?

high school marching band with brass instruments and drumsAutomaticity is the level of learning you have achieved when you can do something accurately and quickly while you are doing something else.  It is “automatic” because you don’t have to stop and think about it; you can do it while concentrating on something else. As the picture illustrates, you need to develop automaticity to function in a marching band, which is why it takes a lot of practice.  You have to march while simultaneously playing music and keep up with everyone else. That takes automaticity.

 

What is automaticity good for?

tools to build math fact fluencyIn academics, students use certain “tool skills” while they are multitasking.  These tool skills must become automatic so students can use them without thinking.  One tool skill is decoding in reading–getting the words off the page. That has to be automatic so the reader can focus on the message of the material they are reading.  Spelling is another tool skill that has to be automatic. A student who is writing something should not be distracted by trying to remember how to spell the words they are writing.

 

Why is automaticity of math facts important?

A student figuring out math facts slowlyIn math, the tool skill that must be automatic is remembering math facts.  Students must be able to recall the answer to single digit facts like 9 + 7 while simultaneously doing more complex problems.  They need to be able to recall those facts without losing their place in what they are computing, just like a member of a marching band.

No matter how clever the strategy for remembering a math fact, if it is not recalled instantly and automatically, it disrupts the thinking process of the learner.  The steps in the overall math procedure will become confusing, or the point of the computation may be lost. Strategies for developing automaticity must guard against allowing students to repeatedly “figure out” facts and must direct them to “just remember” the fact.  This can be a surprise for some teachers and some students!

Practice strategies that develop automaticity of math facts

Two students participating in one of Rocket Math's math fluency programsStudents can recall some facts instantly but have not yet learned others enough to be recalled instantly.  New math facts are learned one at a time. Although most students can work on memorizing three or four new facts at a time, if the facts are too similar, even three will be too many.

The best method of practice is to read problems aloud and say the answer from memory.  If there is any hesitation after the problem is read aloud (which gives the learner enough time to remember) then extra practice is needed on that fact.  The procedure should happen immediately, as there is no time to waste. The learner needs to understand that the goal is to instantly recall facts, rather than puzzle them out. 

Figuring out math facts will not develop automaticity

Rocket Math mobile math fact game interfaceAllowing students extended time to work out the answer to a math fact teaches the wrong lesson.  If there is any hesitation in answering, extra practice should involve being told the fact and the answer immediately (no more puzzling it out, is the message!).  After hearing the correct answer, the learner should say the problem and the answer aloud two or three times. They should then go on and practice two or three different problems before returning to the problem that the learner was slow to answer.  And finally, the learner should try to answer the first math fact again, this time without any hesitation. This process of being told the answer, trying to commit it to memory and trying to recall it a few seconds later will develop automaticity of math facts. Consistently allowing students extended time to figure out facts will not lead to automaticity.

Similarly, the Rocket Math Online Game only allows students 3 seconds to input an answer.  If they can’t answer instantly, automatically, then the game shows, “Time’s Up!”  and Mission Control says, “You gotta be faster!” Next, the game gives the student extra practice on that fact and starts them over in the part.  The game expects automaticity of math facts and teaches students that they can in fact do that.

Students will be able to remember and recall the answer, as long as only a couple of new facts are introduced at a time.  They will come to realize that instant recall is possible, and that is their goal. Once they can recall facts without having to figure them out, math will become a breeze.

Use Rocket Math’s automatic response worksheets for testing not teaching

The Rocket Math Worksheet Program has students practice in pairs as described above.  Then each day the pair will do timed or “automatic response” worksheets—but as a test.  The worksheets proceed from A to Z as students learn more facts in the operation. Each worksheet only tests the facts introduced thus far.  Students practice the same set of facts, using the oral procedure outlined above until all of the facts introduced thus far are automatic.

Rocket Math Addition Set D Worksheet that develops automaticity of math factsWhat facts are on each math worksheet matter.  A worksheet cannot contain a mix of all of the facts in an operation; you cannot expect facts to become automatic by doing the sheet repetitively. No one can learn 80 facts at once.  The curriculum must break down the facts in an operation into bite-size pieces so that students can practice and learn them. You see here set D, which has added 7+1 and 8+1 and their reverses as new facts.  The One-Minute Test only presents the facts learned up through set D. For the first couple of days, the student will not be able to answer all the facts instantly; but after a few days of practice, the students will be automatic with all the facts.  Then the student will pass the set. The curriculum should add more facts to be learned in the next set.

Slow and steady wins the race. It takes months to learn all of the facts in an operation to the level of automaticity, but everyone can do it.