Do students have to read the facts in a certain order?

It is actually more important than you might think, that students practice by reading facts in a consistent way. 
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
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Rachel asks:
Hi Don,
After using Rocket Math for a week, I have a question.  My daughter  often reverses the order of the numbers when reading off the facts (i.e. 1+5 when it's really 5+1).   Of course, this doesn't affect the answer in addition, but I wondered if I should correct her?  She sometimes does it upwards of 50% of the time.  I just wondered if I should be concerned about her reversing the numbers, and if so what I should do about it.  [BTW: this is not a picture of Rachel's daughter!]

Dr. Don answers:
      If I were still running a school I would be offering you a teaching job right now!  What a good question!  Your daughter is doing something that most people do, which is trying to simplify the task and ignore the difference in the order.  Because 5+2 and 2+5 are both 7 why not just think of them as the same thing? *  

    However, there is a risk.  If a student always says "five plus two is seven" and never says it the other way around they will not have the jingle-like memory of "Two plus five" in their brain.  When they encounter 2 + 5 and read it aloud to themselves the answer won't pop into mind automatically.  They would probably puzzle a second, realize it is the same as 5+2 and then know the answer is seven, but it won't be automatic.  [That is what is going on in the picture above.]  We want that automatic answer to pop into mind, unbidden, without having to think about it.  In other words, we want it so that when your daughter says to herself, "Two plus five is..." the answer "seven" pops into her mind without having to think about it

  Whew, this is a lot of rationale, but I know you can follow me.  This means that you want to treat reading the problem in the wrong order as an error.  When she reads the problem in the wrong order (when she says "Two plus five is seven" when the problem reads 5+2) you need to correct her by saying the problem in the correct order with the answer.  You say, "Five plus two is seven."  This, by the way is why our correction procedure is always for the checker to say the whole problem and the answer, so the checker can correct the order of reading the problem without causing confusion.

   She of course, will tell you, "But, it's the same!"  Just reply with, "You have to say it the way it is written."  You can tell her Dr. Don said so! 

   PS.  When you get to multiplication, this gets even more tricky, because there's a good case to be made for reading multiplication fact problems up, because that's how we say them when we are doing multi-digit multiplication problems.  But that is a whole other blog!
* Interesting fact, when doing the Rocket Math iPhone app, the learner/player is presented with both facts (for example 5+2 and 2+5) in the same set--mixed between the two as they are being learned.  When I am playing the app, I find I can't remember if I the app presented both facts or just one.  Although the app presents both, I just put them together in my mind to make it easier, and don't even notice the order.
Customer Question of the Week  
  Can you send a completed example of Individual Student Graphs?

Here is how to complete the vertical axis on the Individual Student Graph based on four different examples of starting scores on the first 2-minute timing.

Amy writes:
I have a question about the Individual Student graph form.  Can you send me example of a completed graph?  I understand marking 10 points lower but the 0...5.....0...5....0...5 axis confused me.

I also have a question on Two minute timings. Directions state to use two minute timing at the end of an operation, is that when they have completed their A-Z one minute test?
Thank You

Dr. Don answers:
         Here are some examples of how you would fill out the vertical axis of the Individual Student Graph depending on what the student's starting score was on the Two-Minute Timings.  The form says, "Set starting point of vertical axis at the nearest ten below the student's first 2-minute timing (e.g., if first timing is 37, begin graph at 30, etc.)."
            If a picture is worth a thousand words, then these four examples should make the procedure clearer.  Thanks for asking for examples--which is often the best way to explain/teach something!

LOL on your second question.   At first, I couldn't figure out what you meant.  So I re-read the directions ( Rocket Math FAQs letter X) and realized what you referring to.  It says, " You can find the two-minute timings at the end of each operation." 
What you were reading was something I wrote to explain the location of the two-minute timings in the old pdf file where all 400 pages came in one big file!  You had to scroll through the file to find the two-minute timings which were located "behind" or "at the end of" the practice pages in the operation.  Now with the subscription you can just click on the two minute timings.  I will need to edit those directions and fix that! My bad!
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Susan Stratton on Rocket Math Homework Help: 
Everything parents need to know how to practice at home
Susan Stratton gives a demonstration designed for parents on how to practice Rocket Math at home. It is excellent, except for one small point. She forgot to demonstrate that after an error or a hesitation and the correction, the student goes backward three problems before beginning again. This ensures that the student will encounter the problem on which he or she hesitated again BEFORE forgetting the answer!
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
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