**How should the students practice with each other?**

One student has a copy of the PRACTICE answer key and functions as the checker while the practicing student has the problems without answers. The practicing student reads the problems aloud and says the answers aloud. It is critical for students to say the problems aloud before saying the answer so the whole thing, problem and answer, are memorized together. We want students to have said the whole problem and answer together so often that when they say the problem to themselves the answer pops into mind, unbidden. (Unbidden? Yes, unbidden. I just kinda like that word and since I am writing this, I get to use it.)

A master PRACTICE answer key is provided—be sure to copy it on a distinctive color of paper to assist in classroom monitoring. The distinctive color is important for teacher monitoring. If you are ready to begin testing and you see hot pink paper on a desk, you know someone has answers in front of him/her. When you make these distinctively colored (there, I said it again) copies, be sure to copy all of the answer sheets needed for a given operation and staple them into a booklet format…one for each student who is working in that operation. For some reason (I actually know the reason) teachers always want to find a way to put the answer keys permanently into the students’ folders. DON’T. Students need to be able to hold these in their hot little hands, outside of their folders. Then answer keys will be the same regardless of the set of facts on which a student is working. So students working on multiplication will have the answers to ALL the practice sets for multiplication. This allows students from different levels to work together without having to hunt up different answer keys.

The checker watches the PRACTICE answer key and listens for hesitations or mistakes. If the practicing student hesitates even slightly before saying the answer, the checker should immediately do the correction procedure, explained below. (Let’s stop here. This is critical. Critical, we tell ya. This correcting hesitations thing is sooooo important. We mean **really important**. You can probably guess why. We need students to be able to say the answer to these problems without missing a beat — not even half a beat. So students must be taught that there is no hesitation allowed. Really.) Of course, if the practicing student makes a mistake, the checker should do the correction procedure.

The correction procedure has three steps:

- The checker interrupts and immediately gives the correct answer.
- The checker asks the practicing student to repeat the fact and the correct answer at least once and maybe twice or three times. (We vote for three times in a row.)
- The checker has the practicing student backup three problems and begin again from there. If there is still any hesitation or an error, the correction procedure is repeated. Here are two scenarios:

Scenario One

Student A: “Five times four is eighteen.”

Checker: “Five time fours is twenty. You say it.”

Student A: “Five times four is twenty. Five times four is twenty. Five times four is twenty.”

Checker: “Yes! Back up three problems.”

Student A: (Goes back three problems and continues on their merry way.)Scenario Two

Student A: “Five times four is … uhh…twenty.”

Checker “Five times four is twenty. You say it.”

Student A: “Five times four is twenty. Five times four is twenty. Five times four is twenty.”

Checker: “Yes! Back up three problems.”

Student A: (Goes back three problems and continues on their merry [there is a lot of merriment

in this program] way.)

This correction procedure is the key to two important aspects of practice. One, it ensures that students are reminded of the correct answers so they can retrieve them from memory rather than having to figure them out. (We know they can do that, but they will never develop fluency if they continue to have to “figure out” facts.) Two, this correction procedure focuses extra practice on any facts that are still weak.

**Please Note:** If a hesitation or error is made on one of the first three problems on the sheet, the checker should still have the student back up three problems. This should not be a problem because the practice problems go in a never-ending circle around the outside of the sheet. Aha…the purpose for the circle reveals itself!

Each student practices a minimum of two minutes. The teacher is timing this practice with a stopwatch…no, for real, time it! After a couple of weeks of good “on-task” behavior you can “reluctantly” allow more time, say two and a half minutes. Later, if students stay on task you can allow them up to about three minutes each. Make ‘em beg! If you play your cards right (be dramatic), you can get your students to beg you for more time to practice their math facts. We kid you not. We’ve seen it all over the country…really!

After the first student practices, students switch roles and the second student practices for the same amount of time. It is more important to keep to a set amount of time than for students to all finish once around.It is not necessary for students to be on the same set or even on the same operation, as long as answer keys are provided for all checkers. If students have the answer packet that goes with the operation they are practicing and their partner is on a different operation, they simply hand their answer packet to their partner to use for checking. We know what you are thinking. Yes, we realize that “simply handing” something between students is often fraught with danger. We were teachers too. All of the parts of the practice procedure will need to be practiced with close teacher monitoring several (hundreds of) times prior to beginning the program. Not really “hundreds,” but if you want this to go smoothly, as with anything in your classroom, you will need to TEACH and PRACTICE the procedural component of this program to near mastery. Keep reading. We will tell you HOW to do this practice. (We are VERY directive.)

- -The practicing student should say both the problem and the answer every time. This is important because we all remember in verbal chains.
- -Saying the facts in a consistent direction helps learn the reverses such as 3 + 6 = 9 and 6 + 3 = 9.
- -To help kids with A.D.D. (and their friends) the teacher can make practice into a sprint-like task. “If you can finish once around the outside, start a new lap at the top and raise your fist in celebration!” Recognize these students as they start a second “lap” either with their name on the board or oral recognition — “Jeremy’s the first one to get to his second lap. Oh, look at that, Mary and Susie are both on their second laps. Stop everyone, time is up. Now switch roles and raise your hand when you and your partner are ready to begin practicing.”