The rapid speed required to answer is a feature, not a bug.

You can change how fast the student has to answer, but you probably should not. The main goal of Rocket Math is for students to commit facts to memory, to be able to answer them instantly, from recall. That is called “automaticity.” It is the point of Rocket Math.

Recall is instantaneous, but “figuring out” is not.

The fast pace means they don’t have time to count on their fingers or to “figure out” a fact–they just have to remember it. If they don’t remember, then the game gives them a LOT of practice on only a couple of facts, until they do remember them. That is exactly the point of the game.

We want them to stop having to “figure out” facts and just remember the answer. If the students are not used to “recalling” facts they will think that the game is just “too fast” for them. If they keep playing and learning, after a bunch of repetitions, they will be able to remember the fact. These days students aren’t asked to memorize anywhere else so they are unaccustomed to having to repeat things over and over to commit them to memory. Almost everyone can do it, but it takes more practice than many students are used to doing.

Only if their difficulty score is over 3.0 do they need an adjustment made. Their difficulty score, from the Review Progress screen tells you whether or not the game is too fast for them. You can sort your class based on their difficulty scores–as the teacher did in this picture. A difficulty score under 3.0 means the student has to start over on average fewer than 3 times for each part passed. That is not too difficult. Some students have difficulty scores under 1.0 and Rocket Math is very easy for them. Only students with difficulty scores over 3.0 should have their speed changed. On the other hand, students with difficulty scores under 0.1 should be challenged to take on the Faster speed!

Here’s where you can make the change. Go to the green “Individual Action” button at the right end of each student’s row. Click on “Change Game Speed.” The popup gives you the choices of Fast, Normal, Slow and Slowest.

The options for speed are:

Normal, at 3 seconds to answer (double that for two digit answers)

Slow, at 4.5 seconds to answer per digit

Slowest, at 6 seconds to answer per digit

Fast, at 2.25 seconds to answer per digit

Here you can see different students showing different speeds of play.

Fractions are unnecessarily hard for students to understand. The reason? Not enough practice with identifying a wide enough variety of fractions and ways of displaying them. Rocket Math has introduced a great solution as part of the Universal Level Worksheet subscription–a new program called Identifying Fractions.

Identifying Fractions: Not just proper fractions anymore.

One of the most powerful aspects of the Identifying Fractions program is that it is not limited to showing proper fractions. Right from the beginning of Set A, students are introduced to improper fractions and mixed numbers. They are taught the fundamental understanding that the bottom number tells you how many parts each whole is divided into. At the same time, if the whole is not divided into parts, then we represent it as a whole number. Finally, the top number tells how many parts are shaded (or used) regardless of whether that is more than 1 whole or less than one whole. Identifying fractions that include improper fractions and mixed numbers from the beginning insures that students really understand fractions and don’t accidentally acquire the misrule that fractions are always less than one.

Identifying Fractions: Learn to speak their names also

Without a lot of oral practice students do not always know how to say the names of fractions. Identifying fractions introduces three fractions in each set and includes the words for how to say them. In the example here one half, three halves, and one and one half are written out at the top of the page. This is all that is practiced as part of this first set. This way, orally practicing with a partner means saying the names of the fractions, which are shown at the top of the page. Students are not asked to say any fractions they haven’t seen written out first.

The fractions that students become familiar with include, halves, thirds, quarters, fifths, sixths, eighths, tenths and twelfths. They see improper fractions and mixed number with every denominator.

Identifying Fractions: It’s not the shape that matters

When students don’t have a lot of practice with identifying fractions they may not see different shapes being divided into the same number of parts. In Identifying Fractions we make a point of showing each fraction with at least three different shapes. In this example you see thirds in a circle, in a cube shape, and as upright rectangles making a larger rectangle. All of those are equally “thirds” because each whole figure is divided into three parts. So there are three different shapes for halves, fourths, fifths and sixths.

By the time students are introduced to eighths, tenths and twelfths, they have already learned the rule that the shape doesn’t matter.

When students are eventually introduced to eighths, tenths and twelfths we don’t want to slow them down by having to laboriously count the number of parts in each figure. As you can see to the left, the eighths are displayed as two sets of four rectangles on top of each other. Eighths are always displayed that way, so they are easy to identify quickly. Tenths are consistently displayed as two columns of five blocks with little numbers in them. (I know it’s a little weird, but it works to make them easily identifiable.) Twelfths are always shown as three sets of four rectangles on each other. Students should notice these conventions so they can quickly identify the number of parts in those figures without having to count them.

Identifying Fractions: Advanced students can fit in during Rocket Math routine

Identifying Fractions follows the standard Rocket Math routine. Each student practices orally with the partner for a couple of minutes. Then the two switch roles. Finally everyone takes a 1 minute Daily Test. A student in Identifying Fractions can be paired with any student in any other Rocket Math program as long as the student has an answer key to hand to their checker. Hopefully you remembered to print the answers on colored paper.

Unlike other Rocket Math programs, the test and the practice items are the same. Of course, the students have a page without the answers, while their checker holds the answer key. Students practice by saying aloud to their partner the fractions shown in the test. Then they take the test on those same items, but write the answer.

Identifying fractions has its own writing speed test, to be sure that student goals are individualized to their writing speed. By the time students complete Set Z in this program they will have a strong understanding of fractions that will be fluent. There are even 2-minute timings you can give every week or two for them to chart their progress as they get faster. This is a great program for students of any grade from second grade on up who have finished the basics for their grade level. It will really put them in good shape when dealing with fractions in later years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) Online Game is easier for parents to support.

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

4) Worksheet Program more rigorously develops math fact fluency.

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

5) Worksheet Program will generalize to computation more readily.

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

6) Doing both develops math fact fluency twice.

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

Assign Subscriptions. The orange box on your dashboard shows the number “Unassigned Subscriptions” you have that can be assigned to students. You can give these subscriptions to students by using the blue + Import Students Logins From CSV button.

That page–the pop-up labeled “Import Student Logins From CSV” looks like this picture to the left.

Begin at #1 and click on “CSV template to fill in” to get a properly formatted starting point.

See the blank csv template to the right. You’ll enter the student’s first and last name, make up a username and a passcode for the student. Enter the code number for the learning track they will start in. You can change it at any time. Add the Teacher Mgr’s email if you wish to connect the student to a different teacher that you set up in your account.

Once you have completed the file, save it to your computer as a CSV file (it’s an excel file now, so you have to choose Save As and find Comma Separated Value -CSV in the list).

Now go back to the pop-up labeled “Import Student Logins From CSV” and do #2 Choose file and browse to the csv file you just saved and select it. Then go to the bottom of the page at #3 and hit the blue button that says “Parse CSV.”

After you hit “Parse CSV” you’ll see a list of your students. Scroll to the bottom and hit the blue button that says “Import Students.” Then they will be set up in the system.

If something goes wrong, you can use the red button on your Dashboard that says “Delete ALL students!” It is extreme, but it will clear out all of your student data, allowing you to start over and re-import.

If you have a bunch of trouble, send me your csv files and I will do the import for you. -Dr.Don

Fact Families Part Two 11 to 18 (add & subtract). A fact family includes both addition and subtraction facts. This program is Part 2 of Fact Families, coming after Fact Families 1 to 10. You can see to the left the 18 examples of fact families taught in this program starting with Set A; 11-2, 11-9, 9+2, & 2+9. The sheet shows the sequence of learning facts in the new Rocket Math program Fact Families Part Two 11 to 18 (+, -). Each set that students learn from A to R adds just one fact family to be learned, so it isn’t too hard to remember. (That’s the Rocket Math secret ingredient!)

Learning math facts in families, is gaining in popularity these days. Logic suggests that this would be an easier way to learn. However, the research is not definitive that this is easier or a faster way to learn facts than separating the operations and learning all addition facts first and then learning all subtraction facts. But learning in fact families is a viable option, and I wanted to have it available for Rocket Math customers.

Part Two is a Best fit for second grade. These facts come after the facts in 1 to 10, typically learned in first grade, so these are best for second grade. The 25 fact families in 1s through 10s facts are just enough for one Rocket Math program. It is a good and sufficient accomplishment for first grade. With the 11 to 18 in Par Two for second grade there will be a lot of review. In fact sets S through Z are all review. I have heard that some first grades prefer to keep the numbers small but to learn both addition and subtraction–so this program accomplishes that.

I added Fact Families Part Two 11 to 18 (+, -) to the Universal subscription in August of 2018 bringing the total number of programs in the Universal subscription to 19 (the basic four operations and 15 more!). As always, new programs are added to the Universal subscription without additional cost as soon as they are available.

I most sincerely want students to be successful and to enjoy (as much as possible) the necessary chore of learning math facts to automaticity. Please give me feedback when you use this new program, Fact Families 11 to 18 (+, -), as to how it goes for the students.

You may be interested in a webinar Dr. Don did recently with the folks at the Educational App Store in the U.K. We discussed what is needed for children to have success in math–learning math facts to automaticity. We also talked about how best to help children learn facts and therefore what is needed in an app to achieve that learning.

On Thursday May 3rd, the Educational App Store is hosting a seminar with Dr. Don, “How to prepare students for math success.” Pacific time will be 8:30 AM, Eastern time 12:30 PM and London time will be 4:30 PM .

This 30-minute webinar focuses on the importance for future math success of developing fluency and automaticity with math facts and how to help students achieve it.

Dr. Don Crawford, the author of Rocket Math and Justin Smith, CEO of the Educational App Store will discuss

What are math facts and why are they important for future math success.

What happens when students haven’t memorized math facts.

How can you best help students learn math facts.

Here is the link to register for the webinar. https://www.educationalappstore.com/webinar/how-to-prepare-students-for-math-success

If student progress slows you need to improve practice.

When students are seeing regular success in Rocket Math, when they see themselves progressing, they are motivated and want to do Rocket Math every day (if not more.) This is how it should be. Students love Rocket Math when the implementation is being done well. If they start to complain about doing Rocket Math, then something is amiss. You need to correct the implementation BEFORE that happens.

Students should pass a level in no more than 6 days. There’s a reason there is room for only six “tries” on the Rocket Chart. If any of your students are going beyond six “tries” without passing there needs to be an intervention. When students don’t pass regularly, when you don’t intervene to help that happen they get discouraged. Any student who is not passing in six days needs to either improve the quality of their practice or the amount of their practice–or possibly both.

Intervene to improve the QUALITY of practice.

You can check on the quality by observing each student as he or she practices with the partner. Monitoring carefully during practice is the key!

Is the student saying the whole problem and the answer aloud and loud enough for the partner to hear?

Is the partner correcting hesitations and correcting the right way?

You may need to explain how important correcting hesitations is, and why it is helping your partner, not punishing him or her.

You might have to reward or recognize students who actually do corrections the right way with public praise or points or tickets, etc

Intervene to increase the QUANTITY of practice.

Some students need two practice sessions each day, what football teams call “2-a-days!”

If you see that students are practicing the right way, but still not making good progress, then they will need extra practice sessions. Note that you can add the extra practice sessions without adding tests. Just the oral practice is what is needed. Don’t do marathon session though! Unfortunately, you can’t just extend the time students practice much beyond three minutes per partner or they won’t stay on task. But if you provide two or three sessions of three minutes in length during the day, the students will progress much faster. Read “Motivating by creating success.” Students who can get extra services from Special Education or Title personnel should get an extra practice session with them every day.

Note: Do an extra session where students can practice the test items (inside the box) orally as well. This could make a big difference.

If students are succeeding and passing a level every few days, just the recognition of that on their Rocket Chart is plenty of motivation. But when they aren’t passing they become discouraged. Often teachers will change their rewards to boost motivation for passing levels in Rocket Math. I think that’s great and we have a bunch of ideas on how to boost motivation. But, if students don’t think they can succeed it is very difficult to motivate them. So your first thing to address is their level of success–by improving either the quality or the quantity of their practice.

*** Motivation is composed of the incentive and the belief that it can be done.***

Four steps to get back into your account with a new password

There are 4 steps to get logged in if you haven’t done so since August 2017, or if your password doesn’t seem to work. We have changed the look and location of the login screen. You can access it from the top of the Rocket Math home page.

Step 1: Get to the login screen and click on “Reset Password.”

You can click on “Teacher’s Subscription” on the blue bar, or hover and pull down to “Login,” or click on “Subscriber Account” on the orange bar. All of them will take you to the “Login to your Account” screen pictured here. (We had to change everyone’s password in August with the new system, so your old password won’t work, so step one is to change it.)

The good news is all you have to do is click on Reset Password and it will take you to a screen where you can request a Password Recovery email.

P.S. You don’t even have to enter your email address on this screen–but you probably already did, so don’t worry about it.

Step 2: Request a password reset.

The Reset Password request asks you to tell the system where to send the Password Recovery email. So fill in that box with your email address and then hit the button “Send me the Password Recovery email.”

Step 3: Open the email and Reset your Password.

Look for and open the Rocket Math: Password Recovery email.

You’ll get (pretty much instantly, so you don’t have time to go refill your coffee) an email entitled Rocket Math: Password Recovery that looks like this. It gives you a link to go to a place where you can enter a new password.

P.S. Hint: This new system doesn’t know your old password, so you can use it again, which I highly recommend, if is is one you can remember.

Step 4: Go back to the “Login to your Account” screen and login.

Now you go back to the Rocket Math home page and click on “Teacher’s Subscription” on the blue bar, or hover and pull down to “Login,” or click on “Subscriber Account” on the orange bar. All of them will take you to the login screen where you enter your email (as username) and new password.

Access your Worksheet subscription by logging in where it says “Worksheet Subscription,” (outlined in yellow.) It will take you to the login page you are seeing here, or you can click this link now https://www.rocketmath.com/members/login.

If you can’t remember your password you can hit our handy “Reset Password” link (outlined in red) to change it. That will ask you for your email. After you enter it you can send yourself an email to change your password.

** Here’s a hint: we don’t mind if you “reset” your password to what you thought it was in the first place, even if that was what you had previously, we won’t tell you that you used that one already. In other words, you don’t really have to change it.

If you still can’t get in, try the reset access button at the bottom of the page (outlined in green.)

Once you login you should be taken straight into the Rocket Math File cabinet (pictured to the right). You can open drawers and print files right from here. Note the drawers that are part of the Basic subscription are labeled in blue. The red-labeled drawers are only accessible to those with a Universal subscription.

You can get to your account (to upgrade or renew or change something) by clicking on the “Subscription Manager” link (outlined in yellow).

Be sure to “Logout” (outlined in red) when you’re done in the filing cabinet.