Trying to teach reading by the light of a shared candle

How can a teacher run a math fact fluency program with access to only a couple of computers?

Asa asks:
           Don, My school doesn't currently have a fluency program in place and I'd really like to implement one as I think it's a real need for my kids. I have 65 5th grade students. I don't have access to technology on a 1 to 1 basis in my classroom. I have a couple of computers and a few ipads. Where would be good place for me to start?

Dr. Don answers:
          Hi Asa,  What you describe is like trying to teach reading by the light of a shared candle! Until you have computers (or iPads) for everyone, using computer based programs to provide facts practice won't work! A paper-and-pencil program is really much more realistic.

          The paper-and-pencil version of Rocket Math works really well. Because students work with each other in partner practice they enjoy it. The daily one-minute timings are a good challenge, and the fact that they only have to learn two facts on each set means within a few days they can pass a set. Filling in the Rocket Chart from the bottom up gives them a sense of accomplishment and they learn an important life lesson--that studying and practicing can help you learn!
          For one teacher the cost of a Basic annual subscription is $29, so it's not too expensive to start.  Listen to the Rocket Math in a Nutshell presentation on our home page for a good quick idea of how the program runs.
Get some new ideas of ways to support and motivate math fact learning!
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Challenge your students!
Try the NEW Race for the Stars Game Center
How can you entice your students to play the Race for the Stars game in a center?
            By letting them post their record/best time for completing the game boards. Race for the Stars is a great game for students to practice their math facts. The game provides 24 problems tiles students can race to put down next to the answers in the game board as fast as they can.
           There is now a Game Center Kit that gives you everything you need to set up a center in your room that students will want to visit. The key is the poster with room for student labels with their names. Then next to their name is a place for them to write their best time at filling the game board. (Well, actually their partner with the stop watch should probably write down their time!) 
            All the students in the class can rotate through the Game Center to record how fast they can fill either or both of the two game boards. One, for levels A-K are the first facts to be learned in Rocket Math. The second game board, L-Z are the facts learned in the last half of the Rocket Math levels.
But how can you motivate your students to play the game over and over again to get the practice they need?
               Here is the coolest part of the Race for the Stars Game Center. Students can go back and get someone to time them filling the Race for the Stars gameboard again. If the timer with the stopwatch sees that the student beat their previous best, they get to record the new record time, AND cover the old time up with a star sticker.
            Getting to put up a star sticker next to your name proves you were able to beat your own previous best-that is impressive! In fact, the savvy teacher
will make a daily stop to see who in the class has been able to add a star sticker to the poster next to their name, showing that they beat their previous best time.
And that is how you motivate students to use the Race for the Stars Game Center (item #2112) to practice their math facts in their spare time!
Don't put students BACK after the break!
Try this new intervention instead! 
After a long break, students tend to have more difficulty passing the next level.  Instead of putting them back, give them some extra practice time PRACTICING THE TESTS ORALLY!  No, this is not cheating!  The facts on the test are a review and after a break students need a review--so let them do it!  Doing this intervention for the first week after school starts up again will really help students keep progressing. 
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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