Do your students struggle to complete their timed math worksheets? Is your classroom a sea of finger-counting during fast math facts practice?
Your students aren’t the problem. It’s your teaching technique that’s hindering progress.
Help your students learn math facts quickly and gain confidence in their skills with Rocket Math’s research-based program. The program works because it teaches memorization through multiple, evidence-based techniques that work for all types of learners.
Why Faster Is Better
Not only does math fact memorization serve as a foundation to other math skills, but it also plays a part in motivating student. Most children will feel a sense of pride and excitement when they recognize their ability to quickly recall math facts.
Once a student develops instant recall, math assignments become easy and fast. It enables students to easily recognize many things about numbers that teachers call “number sense.” It gives them confidence. And frankly, they like going fast much better. This makes teaching and learning math far more enjoyable!
Fortunately, almost every child is capable of memorizing math facts in such a way that allows them to call upon them instantly and painlessly. The problem is, many traditional forms of teaching math facts are not effective.
The Problem with Traditional Teaching Techniques
When I was a teacher, I found myself frustrated with the ineffectiveness of traditional teaching tools – specifically when it came to teaching math facts. Repetition, counting, and endless worksheets seemed to leave students discouraged. These old techniques were not taking into account a few simple facts about memorization.
A More Effective Approach to Teaching Fast Math Facts
To help your students memorize math facts effectively, you need to consider five things:
- How many math facts to introduce in one session
- How fast a student can answer individual math facts
- How fast a student can answer multiple math facts
- When to introduce new math facts
- How often a student practices
1. Introduce a small number of math facts in one session
In grad school, I learned a simple fact about memorization that changed the way I look at teaching math facts: the brain can only process a handful of facts at a time. This fact has shaped a foundational part of Rocket Math, the math fact program I developed to help students effectively learn their math facts.
When students are presented with too many facts – perhaps on a worksheet – the brain will not even begin to attempt remembering. Instead, it has been found that when small groups of facts are presented and practiced, the brain can easily absorb the new information.
Rocket Math uses this knowledge to help students learn much faster and gain confidence in their math skills. Rocket Math only presents two math facts and their reverse facts at a time. This simple trick makes a world of difference. As the saying goes: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time . . .”.
2. Help Students Quickly Recall Individual Math Facts
There is a common misconception among teachers and parents that struggling to remember an answer is valuable. Picture the child scratching his head as he racks his brain for the right answer. Unfortunately, this is not an effective way to teach math. In order to strengthen the neural connections that are involved in memorization, recalling the correct answer quickly is key.
When students are forced to rework the problem in their head multiple times, it does nothing for their recall abilities. That is why rather than having the student guess multiple times, Rocket Math uses a correction tool that immediately reminds students of the right answer if at first, they answer either slowly or incorrectly. This helps to build the memory as they are reminded over and over of the right answer.
3. Practice a Series of Math Facts Quickly for Easy Recall
Once a child has practiced calling to mind a handful of math facts, it is time to practicing recalling them, making sure they can do so quickly. Recalling facts can be done at a high speed, whereas figuring out math facts you can’t recall can take a long time. That is why practicing fast recall is important. Repeatedly recalling fact will strengthen a student’s memory while offering a fun challenge. If the student can’t recall the math facts quickly they may need extra help from the teacher to learn the facts before continuing with quick recall practice.
Rocket Math only has students practice for a few minutes at a time, as that is all is needed when quickly recalling math facts. To measure progress, Rocket Math utilizes 2-minute timing exercises every couple of weeks to see how well students are able to recall math facts. Our free fluency tests are also a great assessment tool for testing student knowledge.
4. Carefully Build Math Fact Fluency
Teachers should be thoughtful of the rate at which they introduce new math facts. Before adding more groups of facts, previously learned facts should be well mastered. A student is ready for another handful of facts when they can recall their current set without hesitation. At first, it may seem like this approach will take longer, but because of the efficiency of memorization, students will move quickly through lessons and build math fact fluency with ease.
5. Practice Math Facts Daily for Long-Lasting Fluency
Because there are so many math facts to learn it is important to start children early and to practice daily. This gives students a chance to learn all of the math facts within all four operations. Spreading facts out over time and including daily practice throughout elementary school years will greatly improve a student’s foundational math skills.
Rocket Math: A Modern Approach to Teaching Math Facts
Rocket Math’s research-based program incorporates these modern teaching techniques to help young learners master math facts fast. With the program, recalling math facts becomes easy and enjoyable. It also sets students up for continued success throughout their education.