Tuesday, February 16, 2016
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Teaching the value of hard work

The benefits of Rocket Math extend beyond learning math facts.

A teacher asks:     
Our teachers just had parent/teacher conferences and had a few parents concerned about their student "not passing" levels in Rocket Math. The students AND parents of these students are having a hard time with their child struggling on Rocket Math when it is apparent that they "know" their facts. Their parents don't know why they should have to have the speed when they clearly know their facts and these students are truly some of the top students (95th%ile on state standards). The struggle has given those students some perspective on what it feels like and how you handle not accomplishing something with ease.  If students score 60 or above on their two minute timings consistently,  should they be required to pass all levels ?  What would be your recommendation to do with these students or tell their parents?

Dr. Don answers:
One of the most important benefits of Rocket Math is that it teaches students the value of hard work.  By practicing orally with their partner each day, and doing the correction procedure properly, students find they can learn math facts to the level of automaticity-to where they can answer them instantly without thinking and without hesitation.  That takes some practice and work, even for gifted students.  But everyone can do it with enough practice.  
Although it is only ten minutes a day, the work of Rocket Math is very important in teaching students the value of their own efforts.  Students learn that even if they can't pass initially, if they practice every day (and maybe some more at home with a parent or sibling), they get to the point that they can answer those problems as fast as they can write.  When they achieve this they are justly proud of themselves, because they know they earned the achievement through their own efforts.  Learning this lesson is quite possibly even more important than the math facts themselves.  This is an important lesson for life-that you benefit from working hard at something even if it doesn't come easily.
The only way you could take that away from those students is by rewarding some of your brightest students with the same accomplishment without having to work through the levels.  You can use the placement probes to determine if students even need an operation-they can "test-out" of the operation in the beginning of the year.  But once you have determined that students need to work through the operation, the worst thing you could do to the class would be to suddenly announce that some students have "passed" without doing the work. That would make everyone else feel like a dummy for having to work at it.
I will write a separate post on the things you can do for students who get stuck and can't pass in six tries.  However, I want to stress that a key outcome of Rocket Math is learning the value of hard work in school.  Don't do anything to undermine that.
Subscription version of Rocket Math Apps begin expiring this month and are no longer available.  Instead, purchase permanent replacements from iTunes.  See the links below.  
Rocket Math
Addition App
Available in the
and for a 50% discount in Apple's Volume Purchase Plan for Education.
Click to read
the reviews for our Apps:
Rocket Math
Multiplication App
Available in the
and for a 50% discount in Apple's Volume Purchase Plan for Education.
Video Clip of the Week

When you should raise goals in Rocket Math and why you usually should NOT lower goals.  
Question of the week
What do we do about students who are stuck?

A teacher asks:
We have several students that are having difficulty passing the writing "40" goal even though they all did more than that on their "Writing Speed Test." They easily pass when they say them orally.

What would be your recommendation to do with these students or tell their parents? The classroom teacher is willing to listen to each one of them to see if they can pass all levels on just one oral try but really doesn't want all students or parents to start expecting this. 

Dr. Don answers:
Thanks for letting me know about their results in the Writing Speed test, and the fact that they can answer over 40 problems in one minute orally. This is clearly an example of my nice clean theory meeting the mess of reality! There is no logical reason why students who know the facts well enough to pass orally AND who have the handwriting skills to write the answers are not able to pass the written tests.  But clearly they aren't! 

It doesn't make sense to hold them back from moving along and learning more facts if they are automatic with the facts-as demonstrated by the oral test on each level. The point of the Daily One Minute tests is to find out if the students know the facts without hesitation. If you know that is the case, you want to move them along to learn more facts, BUT.....

You want a policy that encourages students to pass the written test if they can at all, because that is more efficient and more fair. On the other hand you don't want to hold students back completely if they really know the facts without hesitation.
Here is a possible policy that will balance the two. 
Click here to read the rest of Dr. Don's blog post
Hidden gem of the week
(Something you may never have noticed)

22 inch screen printed Rocket Math Super Hero  Cape.

This is a great tool for recognizing and motivating students. This cape is a terrific way to honor students who have accomplished goals in Rocket Math. Let them wear this super cool Super Hero Rocket Math Cape for the day or during Rocket Math practice! Be the first teacher in your school to get your students totally motivated by this inexpensive and recyclable social recognition.
Thank you for your interest in Rocket Math.  I created it to help students be more successful, gain confidence and enjoy math more.  Let me know how else I can help.  Feel free to call me with any questions you have or send me an email to don@rocketmath.com
Dr. Don
Rocket Math
phone (888) 488-4854
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