Document improved fluency by assigning a 1-minute RACE.

We have a feature that will allow you to assign a fluency test to all or some of your students. We call it a “1-minute RACE.”

To Assign a Fluency Test 1-Minute RACE:

1) Select the students to whom you want to assign the test RACE, or Select All.

2) Click on the orange Bulk Action button.

3) Pull down to “Assign 1-min RACE on next login.”

After doing that, in your dashboard you will see that the 1-minute race has been assigned on the next login. The next time those students login, they will be given the mission of doing a 1-minute race with ALL the facts in the Learning Track they are studying. They can skip facts they don’t know, by hitting the checkmark.

Here’s what the students experience.

A 1-minute test RACE is also automatically SCHEDULED after Sets A, i, R, and Z. See their latest results in Review Progress!

Assign a 1-minute RACE individually also–at any time you wish.

You can assign a 1-minute RACE at any time for specific individuals as well, using the green Individual Action button at the end of their row.

Export the test RACE results in spreadsheets.

Separate exports for results from RACEs you Assignfrom the RACEs that are Scheduled after working through some levels in the Online Game (After sets A, i, R, and Z).

See averages across your class or school.

Each spreadsheet will show the average for your class as a teacher or for the school in the account of the Subscription Manager or owner. There are separate averages for each Learning Track.

See trends over time.

You’ll see the improvement each student makes from the beginning after Set A to each of the subsequent tests RACES.

Tried-and-true Rocket Math fact fluency worksheets

[A $49 value]Our Rocket Math Worksheet Program has students practice daily with a partner, take a One-Minute Test, and move up the Rocket Chart based on the ten-minutes per day pencil-and-paper activities. Teachers have been relying on this program and getting gratifying results for decades. This subscription will give you access to the Rocket Math filing cabinet and all of the hundreds of worksheets available to print from our virtual filing cabinet.

30 seats for the Online Game develops math fact fluency in a fast-paced format

[A $60 value]In 2018, Rocket Math added an Online Game for students to play on any device and learn math facts. This package will give access to up to 30 students in your classroom. The regular price for 30 students is $2 per student for the year.

In the Online Game, students login and practice and work through levels A to Z the same as in the Worksheet Program. If a student takes longer than 3 seconds to answer a fact, the program treats it as a hesitation and gives more practice on that fact. The program responds to hesitations by telling the student the problem and answer, asking them to enter the correct answer, then giving them the problem again a few seconds later.

Students can also login in at home and practice there. The Rocket Math Online Game is very intense, so learners can only work for five minutes at a time, and then the game makes them take a 30-minute break. Although the game is challenging (or maybe because it is hard), students are very motivated by seeing their progress. They can tell that they are learning and they feel good about their accomplishments.

You can monitor the development of math fact fluency in the game

The teacher can monitor progress (as you can see below). The teacher can see if students are logging on at home, see their level of difficulty, and change them to a different one of the ten learning tracks available. Easy to set up a program of recognition for students who practice at home.

Bonus: Wall Charts visually track development of math fact fluency

[An $18 value]As a bonus in this package Rocket Math will send you a Rocket Math Wall Chart.This chart comes with stickers for students to post each time they pass a level in Rocket Math. It has goal arrows, so the teacher can set goals for the class with rewards for filling up the chart to a certain point. This enables the students to work together to achieve goals and celebrate their success as a group. Also comes with directions on how to use it to best advantage.

This chart is a very motivating for students as they are developing math fact fluency and builds team spirit with your class.

Tried-and-true Rocket Math fact fluency worksheets

[A $300 value]Our Rocket Math Worksheet Program has students practice daily with a partner, take a One-Minute Test, and move up the Rocket Chart based on the ten-minutes per day pencil-and-paper activities. Teachers have been relying on this program and getting gratifying results for decades. This subscription will give all the teachers in your building access to the Rocket Math filing cabinet and all of the hundreds of worksheets available to print from our virtual filing cabinet. Purchased by itself the All Teacher Universal Worksheet Program costs $300.

Online Game develops math fact fluency in a fast-paced format

[A $400 to $900 value]In 2018, Rocket Math added an Online Game for students to play on any device and learn math facts. This package will give access to all the students in your school, without regard to how many there are. The regular price for 100 or more students is $1 per student for the year. So if your school has fewer than 395 students in your building, you want to buy the programs separately.

In the Online Game, students login and practice and work through levels A to Z the same as in the Worksheet Program. If a student takes longer than 3 seconds to answer a fact, the program treats it as a hesitation and gives more practice on that fact. The program responds to hesitations by telling the student the problem and answer, asking them to enter the correct answer, then giving them the problem again a few seconds later.

The Rocket Math Online Game is very intense, so learners can only work for five minutes at a time, and then the game makes them take a 30-minute break. Although the game is challenging (or maybe because it is hard), students are very motivated by seeing their progress. They can tell that they are learning and they feel good about their accomplishments.

Teachers can monitor the development of math fact fluency in the game

The teacher can monitor progress (as you can see below). The teacher can see if students are logging on at home, see their level of difficulty, and change them to a different one of the ten learning tracks available.

Dr. Don has created another math program and put it into the Universal level virtual filing cabinet at Rocket Math. This is a beginning program for kindergarten students. That means they can’t learn on their own, the teacher must provide instruction. Teachers can use the worksheets to effectively teach students to count objects aloud and then match the word with the numeral. You can see the top half of Worksheet A here.

I do–demonstration of counting.

Each worksheet begins with a demonstration of counting objects and circling the numeral that matches. On Worksheet A there are only the numerals two and three to learn. The teacher demonstrates (best with a document camera so all students can see) how she counts the objects and then points out that the answer is circled. Suggested teaching language is something like this,

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

We do–counting together.

In the “We do” portion of the worksheet the teacher counts the stars first as a demo and then with the students. Worksheet A you all just count 3 stars. Suggested teaching language is something like this:

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

By Worksheet S the teacher and the students are counting 12 stars together.

The program has a page of teacher directions, with suggested language for teaching the worksheets.

You do–independent counting.

In the “You do” portion of the worksheet (after learning the numerals with the teacher), the students are asked to count the items in each box and circle the correct number. They are not asked to form the numerals–that’s numeral writing skill. They just identify the numeral and circle it. Besides cute items there are also dice to count, fingers to count and hash marks to count–so students can learn multiple ways of keeping track of numbers.

Passing a level requires 100% accuracy. Students who make any errors should be worked with until they can complete the worksheet independently and get all the items correct.

This Beginning numerals program will build strong beginning math skills for kindergarten students learning the meaning of numerals. Combined with Rocket Writing for Numerals it will set students up for success in elementary math.

Math Fluency Programs should be part of on-going elementary school routines

Most elementary teachers do some activities to promote math fluency. Yet many elementary children are not fluent with math facts by the time they hit upper elementary or middle school. A hit-or-miss approach allows too many students, especially the most vulnerable, to slip through the cracks. Math fluency programs, like Rocket Math’s Worksheet Program, need to be part of your elementary school’s routine. Effective math fluency programs should be properly structured and every math teacher should be on board, every year.

Math fact fluency enables students to develop number sense

Many teachers learn in their training programs about the importance of “number sense.” Students who have “number sense” can easily and flexibly understand relations between numbers. They can recombine numbers in various ways and see the components of numbers. Students with number sense can intuit the fact that addition and subtraction are different ways of looking at the same relations.

What is not taught in most schools of education is that developing fluency with the basic math facts ENABLES the development of number sense much better than anything else. Once students memorize facts, they are available for students to call upon to understand alternate configurations of numbers. Students find it much easier to see the various combinations when they when they can easily recall math facts. Once students master the basic facts, math games that give flexibility to thinking about numbers become much easier.

It may be hard for new teachers, straight from indoctrination in the schools of education, to imagine this is true. However, if they land in an elementary school with a strong math fact fluency program they will see the beneficial effect of memorization.

Why is math fact fluency important

In the primary grades, students who have not developed fluency in math facts will have a harder time learning basic computation.

Students who are not fluent with math facts find the worksheets in the primary grades to be laborious work. They finish fewer of them and may begin to dislike math for this reason.

By the time students reach upper elementary, if they have not memorized the math facts, they find it very difficult to complete math assignments at their grade level. They find themselves unable to estimate or do mental math for problem-solving. The need to figure out math facts will continue to distract non-fluent students while they are learning new math procedures like algorithms.

In the upper grades, their inability to figure out multiplication facts becomes a huge stumbling block. Manipulations of fractions, decimals, and percentages will not make intuitive sense to students because they haven’t memorized those facts. Without math fact fluency, students rarely succeed in pre-algebra and may be prevented from learning algebra and college-level math entirely.

Math fact fluency must be assured through regular monitoring

Some students will need up to ten times more practice to develop math fluency than other students. Therefore, monitoring student success in memorizing the facts is critical. Teachers can assume that what is “enough practice” for some students is NOT going to be enough practice for all students. Effective math fluency programs must have a progress monitoring component built in. Progress monitoring gives comparable timed tests of all the facts at intervals during the year. Teachers look at the results of these timed tests to check on two things:

1. Are students gradually improving their fluency with all the facts gradually over the year?

In other words, are students able to answer more facts in the same amount of time? If they aren’t improving, then the instructional procedures aren’t working and need to be modified or replaced. Math fluency programs like Rocket Math’s Worksheet Program have two minute timings of all the facts in each operation that can be given and the results graphed to see if there is steady improvement.

2. Are all students reaching expected levels of performance at each grade level each year?

Proper math fluency programs identify students who are not meeting expectations and give them more intensive interventions. Ultimately, by the end of fourth grade all students should be able to fluently answer basic 1s – 9s fact problems from memory in the four operations of add, subtract, multiply and divide. Fluent performance is generally assumed to be 40 problems per minute, unless students cannot write that quickly.

Expectations vary by grade level and the sequence with which schools teach facts can vary. While it is great to achieve all that the Common Core suggests, it is critical only to assure that students master and gain fluency in 1s through 9s facts. Some schools in some neighborhoods may find that waiting until second grade to begin math facts may not provide enough time for all students to achieve fluency. When to begin fact fluency and how much to expect each year should be based on experience rather than some outside dictates.

Successful math fluency programs must have these 3 features

Sequences of small sets

No one can memorize ten similar things, like the 2s facts, all at once. Students easily master math facts when they can learn and memorize small amounts of facts at one time. Effective math fluency programs define math fact sequences, which students memorize at their pace before moving onto new math facts. Rocket Math’s fluency program uses only two facts and their reverses in each set from A through Z.

Self-paced progress

Even if you only introduce small sets of math facts, some students need more time to memorize than others. If you introduce the facts too fast, students will begin to jumble them together and progress will be lost. The pace of introducing facts must be based on mastery—not some pre-defined pace. This is why doing all the multiplication facts as a class in the first six weeks of third grade does not work. It is just too fast for some students. Once they fall behind it all becomes a blur.

Effective practice and corrections

When students are practicing facts, they will come to ones they have forgotten or can’t recall immediately. Those are the facts on which they need more practice. Allowing students to stop and figure out the facts they don’t know while practicing, does not help the student commit them to memory. Instead, students need to IMMEDIATELY receive the fact and the answer, repeat it and try to remember it. Then they need to attempt that fact again in a few seconds, after doing another couple of problems. If they have remembered the fact and can recall it, then they are on their way to fluency. But students must practice the next day to cement in that learning.

Math fluency programs like Rocket Math’s Worksheet Program teach students math facts in small sets, allow students to progress at their own pace, and support effective practice and error correction. Each Rocket Math Worksheet program has 26 (A to Z) worksheets specially designed to help kids gradually (and successfully) master math skills. Gain access to all of them with a Universal Subscription or just the four basics (add, subtract, multiply, divide–1s to 9s) with a Basic Subscription.

Just playing a math facts game won’t build math fact fluency

There are a lot of apps out there that look like they would help your child learn math fact fluency. If they have to answer math facts, won’t that work? Not really. Just playing a game that asks you to answer facts won’t help you learn new facts. In fact, most apps for practicing facts are discouraging to students who don’t know their facts well. Why? Because most of the people designing the app don’t have any experience teaching. A teacher, like the creator of the Rocket Math App, is trained to effectively teach new math facts (or any facts) to a student and knows an effective math app from an ineffective one.

3 essential features of an effective math fact app

There are plenty of ineffective math apps. Some apps don’t give the answers when a student doesn’t know them. Some apps just fill in the answer for the student and then move on. When the student doesn’t know the answer, the app has to teach it. To teach math fact fluency, the app has to do these three things:

The app has to tell the problem and the answer to the student.

It has to ask the student to give the correct answer to the problem.

It has to ask the problem again after a short delay to see if the student can remember the answer.

Without doing these three things there’s no way the app is going to be able to teach a new fact to the student.

An effective math app will only teach a few math facts at a time

Nobody can learn a bunch of new and similar things all at the same time. A person can only learn two, three, or four facts at a time. You cannot expect to learn more.* That’s enough for one session. The student has to practice those facts a lot of times to commit them to memory. Once or twice is not enough. It also won’t help to practice the same fact over and over. Proper math fact fluency practice intermingles new math facts along with facts the learner has already memorized. However, no more than two to four facts should be introduced at a time. If a student has to answer a lot of random untaught math facts, you will have a very frustrated learner.

Practice must focus on building math fact fluency

Some students learn to solve addition problems by counting on their fingers. That’s a good beginner strategy, but students need to get past that stage. They need to be able to simply and quickly recall the answers to math facts. An app is good for developing recall. But the app has to ask students to answer the facts quickly, faster than they can count on their fingers. The app has to distinguish when a student is recalling the fact (which is quick) from figuring out the fact (which is slow). Second, the app must repeatedly ask the learned facts in a random order, so students are recalling. But the app should not throw in new facts until all the facts are mastered and can be answered quickly.

Introduce new facts only when old facts are mastered

The trick to effectively teaching math facts is to introduce new math facts at an appropriate pace. If you wait too long to introduce math facts, it gets boring and wastes time. If you go too fast, students become confused. Before introducing new facts, students need to master everything you’ve given them. An effective app will test whether students have mastered the current batch of math facts before introducing more facts. And it will also introduce math facts at a pace based on student mastery. That’s the final piece of the puzzle to ensure students learn math facts from an app.

*Rocket Math App focuses on two facts and their reverses at a time, such as 3+4=7, 4+3=7, 3+5=8 and 5+3=8.

As a university supervisor of pre-service teachers, I’ve seen my share of bad lessons. Among the most painful were when student teachers would try to liven up their lessons to impress me by having the students do a math game. My student teachers wanted their students to learn math facts and to do so in a fun way. The picture above is typical of what I would see. Here are the reasons that most multiplication games that the student teachers implemented were awful.

(For multiplication games that work in and out of the classroom, check out Rocket Math’s Worksheet Program and Online Game.)

Waiting for your turn at a multiplication game is not learning!

As you can see in the picture above, all but one of the students are just waiting for their turn. They aren’t doing math. The students are just watching the student who is playing. No one likes waiting, and your students are no exception. Any game that has turn-taking among more than two students wastes time.

Make sure your multiplication games are structured so all or most students are engaged and playing all the time. You want students to have as much engaging practice as possible while practicing math facts at speed. If everyone can be doing that at the same time, that’s optimal. No more than two students should be taking turns at a time.

A multiplication game that allows using a known strategy to figure out facts (like finger counting) is not learning!

Learning math facts involves memorizing these facts so that students know them by memory, by recall. Committing facts to memory is why there is a need for lots of practice. If the game allows time for students to count on their fingers or use some other strategy for figuring out the answer to facts, then there is no incentive for students to get better.

In the lower left corner of the picture you can see one student counting on their fingers—which is better than just watching—but is not learning the facts, it is just figuring them out. The most able students in an elementary school are able to memorize facts on their own when they tire of figuring them out day in and day out. But the rest of the students will just do their work patiently year after year without memorizing if you don’t create the conditions for them to memorize facts.

Make sure that your multiplication games reward remembering facts quickly rather than just figuring them out. Speed should be the main factor after accuracy. Fast-paced games are more fun and the point should be that the more facts you learn the better you’ll do.

Multiplication games that randomly present ALL the facts make learning impossible.

It is a basic fact of learning that no one can memorize a bunch of similar things all at once. To memorize information, like math facts, the learner must work on a few, two to four facts, at a time. With sufficient practice, every learner can memorize a small number of math facts. Once learners master a set of math facts, they can learn another batch. But if a whole lot are presented all at once, it is impossible for the learner to memorize them.

Make sure your multiplication games are structured so that each student is presented with only facts they know. A good game presents only a few facts at a time. As students learn some of the math facts, more can be added, but at a pace that allows the learner to keep up. The optimal learning conditions are for the learner to have a few things to learn in a sea of already mastered material.

Rocket Math Multiplication Games

We designed Rocket Math games to help kids gradually (and successfully) master math skills. Students use Rocket Math’s Worksheet Program to practice with partners, then take timings. Students can also individually develop math fact fluency—from any device, anywhere, any time of day—with Rocket Math’s Online Game.

Katy L from Wilson Elementary asks: How can I keep up with everyday Rocket Math grading? Do you teach students to grade their own 1-minute math fluency practice tests?

Dr. Don answers:

Only grade 1-minute math fluency practice tests if students pass

An integral part of the Rocket Math Worksheet Program is the 1-minute math fluency practice test. One-minute fluency practice tests are administered every day, to the whole class, and only after students practice in pairs for two to three minutes each. Check out the FAQs page to learn more about conducting 1-minute math fluency practice tests in class.

Teachers do NOT need to grade, score, or check daily Rocket Math 1-minute math fluency practice tests unless the student has met their goal. Students do NOT need to grade their own daily Rocket Math fact fluency tests either.

Why grading each math test is not important

The important part of math fluency practice is the oral practice with the partner before the test–what’s going on in this picture. Because the students are orally practicing every day and getting corrections from their partners, there should be VERY FEW errors on the 1-minute math fluency written tests.

Correcting written tests doesn’t help students learn anyway. Corrections are only helpful if they are immediate, the student has to acknowledge the correct answer, and remember it for a few seconds–all of which is part of the oral correction procedure. “Correcting” what’s on the paper takes a lot of time and does not help students learn more, so it shouldn’t be done. But you have to check them before declaring that the student has passed a level.

How do you know if a student passes?

Students should have a packet of 6 sheets math fact fluency sheets at their level. Each Rocket Math student has an individual goal. For example, if a student has a goal of 32 (based on their Writing Speed Test) and they only do 31, they know they did not pass. If the student does 32 or more, they pass!

What to do when a student beats their goal (passes)

If a student meets or beats their goal, then have them stand up, take a bow, and then turn their folder into a place where you check to see that all problems were answered correctly. When YOU check (after school?), make sure all of the completed problems were correct and the student met their goal. If so, then you put the unused sheets in that packet back into the filing crate and re-fill the student’s folder with a packet of 6 worksheets at the next level and hand the folder back the next day.

When students receive the new packet of worksheets, they know to color in another letter on the Rocket Chart (and maybe put a star on the Wall Chart).

What to do if a student doesn’t pass?

Students who don’t meet their goals, don’t pass. These students should put the non-passing sheet into their backpacks and take the sheet home for more practice.

The next day they will use the next sheet in their packet of 6. If you want to give them points, do that the next day after they bring back their worksheet where they did a session at home (signature of helper should be there) and all items on the test are completed. If that’s done, they get full points.

Sometimes you’ll catch errors on sheets that students turn in as “passes.” If you see an error, the student doesn’t pass. As a result, the student keeps the old packet and has to continue with that same level worksheet.

Once students know the procedure, they should stop counting and memorize!

When it comes to math facts like 9 plus 7 or 8 times 6 there are only two things to know. 1) A procedure to figure it out, which shows that you understand the “concept.” 2) What’s the answer?

It is important for students to understand the concept and to have a reliable procedure to figure out the answer to a math fact. But there is no need for them to be required to use the laborious counting process over and over and over again! Really, if you think about it, even though this student is doing his math “work” he is not learning anything.

Math teaching strategy: Go ahead and memorize those facts.

(It won’t hurt them a bit. They’ll like it actually.)

Once students know the procedure for figuring out a basic fact, then they should stop figuring it out and just memorize the answer. Unlike capitals and countries in the world, math facts are never going to change. Once you memorize that 9 plus 7 is 16, it’s good for a lifetime. Memorizing math facts makes doing arithmetic MUCH easier and faster. Hence our tagline

Rocket Math: Because going fast is more fun!

Memorizing facts is the lowest level of learning. It’s as easy as it gets. But memorizing ALL the facts, which are similar, is kind of a long slog. Some kids just naturally absorb the facts and memorize them.

Math teaching strategy: Find a systematic way for students to memorize.

A lot of students don’t learn the facts and keep counting them out over and over again. They just need a systematic way of learning the facts. Students need to spend as much time as necessary on each small set of facts to get them fully mastered. If the facts are introduced too fast, they start to get confused, and it all breaks down. Each student should learn at their own pace and learn each set of facts until it is automatic–answered without hesitation and without having to think about it. This can be accomplished by everyone, if practice is carefully and systematically set up. It should be done, because the rest of math is either hard or easy depending on knowing those facts. And don’t get me started about why equivalent fractions are hard!

Rocket Math can make learning math facts easy. But even more important it can make teaching computation easy too! One of the first teachers to field test Rocket Math was able to teach addition facts to her first grade class, and then loop with them into second grade, where she helped them master subtraction facts as well. She told me that because her second graders were fluent with their subtraction facts, they were ALL able to master regrouping (or borrowing) in subtraction in three days. What had previously been a three week long painful unit was over in less than a week. All of them had it down, because all they had to think about was the rule for when to regroup. None of them were distracted by trying to figure out subtraction facts.

Math teaching strategy: Get single-digit math facts memorized before trying to teach computation.

When math facts aren’t memorized, computation will hard to learn, hard to do, and full of errors.

When math facts aren’t memorized, computation will be hard to learn. I used to think computation was intrinsically hard for children to learn. Because it was certainly hard for all of my students with learning disabilities. But none of them had memorized the basic math facts to the point where they could answer them instantly. They always had to count on their fingers for math.

When I learned more about the process of learning, I found out that weak tool skills, such as not knowing math facts, interferes with learning the algorithms of math. When the teacher is explaining the process, the student who hasn’t memorized math facts is forced to stop listening to the instruction to figure out the fact. When the student tunes back into instruction they’ve missed some essential steps. Every step of computation involves recalling a math fact, and if every time the learner has to turn his/her attention to deriving the math fact they are constantly distracted. That interferes with the learning process.

When math facts aren’t memorized, computation will be hard to do. Having to stop in the middle of the process of a multi-digit computation problem to “figure out” a fact slows students down and distracts them from the process. It is easy to lose your place, or forget a step when you are distracted by the difficulty of deriving a math fact or counting on your fingers. It is hard to keep track of what you’re doing when you are constantly being distracted by those pesky math facts. And of course, having to figure out facts slows everything down.

I once stood behind a student in a math class who was doing multiplication computation and when he hesitated I simply gave him the answer to the math fact (as if he actually knew them). He loved it and he was done with the small set of problems in less than half the time of anyone else in his class. Children hate going slow and slogging through computation. Conversely, when they know their facts to the level of automaticity (where the answers pop unbidden into their minds) they can go fast and they love it. That’s why “Because going fast is more fun!” is the Rocket Math tag line.

When math facts aren’t memorized, computation will be full of errors. When I learned more about basic learning, I found out that the frequent student errors in computation were not simply “careless errors.” I thought they were because when I pointed out simple things like, “Look you carried the 3 in 63 instead of the 6.” my students would always go “Oh, yeah.” and immediately correct the error. If I asked them they knew that they were supposed to carry the number in the tens column, but they didn’t.

I thought it was carelessness until I learned that such errors were the result of being distracted. Not by the pretty girl next to you, but by having to figure out what 7 times 9 was in the first place. After going through the long thinking process of figuring out it was 63 they were so distracted that they carried the wrong digit. Not carelessness but distraction. Once students instantly know math facts without having to think about it, they can pay full attention to the process. They make far fewer errors.

In short, don’t be cruel. If you have any autonomy available to you, first help your students memorize math facts and then teach them how to do computation in that operation. In other words, teach subtraction facts before subtraction computation. If you help them get to the point where math fact answers in the operation come to them without effort, you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to teach computation, for them to do it and at the accuracy with which they work.