How can you get first graders to practice in pairs?

You CAN teach first graders how to effectively practice Rocket Math together. This picture from a great blog: Fun in First on blogspot

Tuesday, January 26, 2016
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Ann asks:
Hello, Don.
I'm trying to get first grade teams on board with Rocket Math and would appreciate some tips for that grade level. I am very experienced with Rocket Math, but not sure how successful partner tracking is at first grade. Any tips?   Thanks so much.

You will need to model by being the student, and have a student model how to track, and how to correct errors and hesitations. Continue doing this in front of the whole class until the student does it perfectly and then enthusiastically praise that student for know how to be a "good checker."

You need to choose other students and do that same modeling and practicing procedure. You'll have to show them how to sit, how to hold the papers etc. Do this until every student can be a "good checker" and then practice some more.
You can then bring up pairs of students and have them model for the class how to sit, hold the papers, and practice and how to be a "good checker." Praise them for showing everyone "how to be a good checker." Then when you turn your class loose to actually practice in pairs you must circulate, listen carefully, praise and recognize being a "good checker."

First graders can do paired practice and do it well. They just need more teaching.  Check-out this Fun-in-First blog  for more ideas on how to have first graders work in pairs.

Ann replies:
That was very helpful. Thank you. It's exactly what we do to train fluency partners.
Customer Question of the Week 
 Is 80 problems in 2 minutes appropriate for 2nd graders?

No!  Our Writing Speed Test sets much more realistic goals for students.

Principal Linda writes:
           We are using Rocket Math in 2nd grade. I am in a high achieving school district. My second grade teachers feel that there is no way a second grader can complete 80 math problems in 2 minutes. We had our highest achieving student (doing 4th grade math) she could only answer 76 problems.
How was the 80 problems in 2 minutes derived? Is this appropriate for 2nd graders?  I am having a hard time convincing some teachers about even doing TIMED math facts tests. They feel it creates too much anxiety for kids. Thoughts??

Dr. Don answers:
                   Absolutely your teachers are right! Very rare to find a 2nd grader who could write the answers to 80 problems in two minutes-even after completing Rocket Math! The number of items on the page is NOT the expectation.
The purpose of the two-minute timing is to monitor progress, to be graphed and and to see if over time-over weeks-the students are improving in the number of problems they can answer in 2 minutes.

Only give that 2-minute test once a week or once every two weeks while they are doing Rocket Math daily. If they are learning facts by practicing with each other on a daily basis, after a week or two most students should be able to answer one or two more facts during the 2 minute timing than they did the last time they were tested. That's all we are looking for in progress monitoring-an upward trend on the individual student graph.

Please look carefully at my site for information about expectations which should always be based on how fast students can write rather than being the same for all second graders. Nowhere does it ever set 80 problems in two minutes as an expectation! In fact, we leave the vertical axis on the Individual Student graph open, so that the teacher sets the bottom number of the vertical axis just below what the student does on their first timing. We don't specify what students should be able to do. All we are looking for is individual improvement. If most of the students are improving, and their graphs shown an upward trend, then the program is working!

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The success my students have had with Rocket Math is indescribeable! My third graders are now more fluent with their facts and have become more confident in math. The self-esteem and and positive mentality my students have about math is worth every penny in purchasing this program. I highly recommend rocket math to any teacher who needs their students to learn their facts.
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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
Dr. Don
Rocket Math
phone (888) 488-4854
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