Dr. Don's HINTS AND TIPS 
What does CCSS mean by "know from memory?"


Knowing from memory means not having to stop and think about it.

Two of the standards from the Common Core State Standards say that students should "know from memory"....

These standards name the most important elementary math skills of all, because they are the foundation of all further work in mathematics.  But what does it mean to say students know math facts "from memory?"  It means that students don't have to stop to figure it out.  Say for example a student is adding nine plus seven. A student can figure that out by thinking that because 9 is one more than 8 and 7 is one less than 8, the answer to 9+7 would be the same as 8+8, which is 16.  This is a smart strategy for figuring out the answer, but knowing it from memory means the student simply remembers the answer is 16.

So if second grade students know from memory the sums of all single digit numbers, they can answer any of those problems without hesitation, without having to stop and think about them.  That takes practice, to build up the neural connections, so that students remember the answers instantly without some intervening thought process.  That's what Rocket Math is specifically designed to do.  Practicing figuring out the answer to facts is NOT the same thing as recalling them from memory.  So any practice procedure that allows students a long time to answer facts, allows hesitations, will not be very helpful in achieving that status of "knowing from memory."

The peer practice procedures in Rocket Math require the "checker" to follow a "correction procedure" whenever there is a hesitation.  If the student has to stop even for a second to "think about it" they need more practice on that fact to commit it fully to memory.  The "correction procedure" provides that extra needed practice.  Having students complete worksheets on their own will NEVER eliminate that "stopping to figure it out."  That is why the oral peer practice in Rocket Math is essential.  And that is why Rocket Math really will help students come to " know from memory" all sums of two one-digit numbers.

Twitter Tweet posting of Proud Students celebrating a Rocket Math accomplishment!

Justin Benassi @jstnbnss   

Justin Benassi, a motivating elementary teacher in Woodburn, OR posted this picture displaying the rockets made by his students. They did this to celebrate "beating our goal of 400 stickers! We are rocketing our way to 700!"  (Which fills their Rocket Chart!)
 
Send me your photos!  
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Works the same at the school versions, but with a $2.99 in-app purchase to continue past Level K.
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Multiplication App
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Multiplication App
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Video Clip of the Week
WHAT TO DO AFTER STUDENTS GET STUCK
(AND FRUSTRATED!)
Things you should do to fix the problem for students who get stuck Rocket Math.  And importantly, what not to do!

Question of the week
Why not start with subtraction in 3rd grade?

A principal asks:
Hi Don, 
       My staff has a question about which operation to start with. In our district, we have data that shows students are struggling with subtraction. We really want to put emphasis on getting the subtraction facts memorized. What are your thoughts about 3rd grade starting with subtraction in the beginning of the year and switching to multiplication the second half of the year regardless of having completed Z in subtraction? Thanks!

Dr. Don answers:
Dear Julie,
       Your teachers are right that a lot of students may not be fluent with subtraction facts. There are several reasons for that. And yes, it would be possible to start with subtraction in 3rd grade and then switch to multiplication as students finish, or by mid-year at the latest. But I would not recommend it because you will then have a problem with not every child getting through multiplication in 3rd grade, which results in a similar problem in fourth grade. 
       What would be better would be to get every second grader fluent in subtraction facts before 3rd grade.   Why? It is important to understand the problem before specifying the solution. Students have trouble learning subtraction facts primarily because they have not achieved automaticity in addition facts first. And why aren't they automatic in addition facts? Usually because they didn't start early enough and work on addition facts long enough in first grade to get to automaticity with addition facts.
            A second reason students don't master subtraction during grade 2, happens when the school doesn't keep track of folders from first grade. If students have to start completely over with addition in second grade, they don't have enough time (if they are a child who needs a bunch more time to learn facts) to get through both addition and subtraction. They go slowly through addition again, and don't get into subtraction until well after the middle of the second grade. So the first push is to try to get everyone passing subtraction in 2nd grade.

           What you don't want to do is start over again in subtraction in third grade and struggle through that all year and then not have enough time to master multiplication in third grade. Because multiplication facts are so important, it would be better to do the reverse. Start with multiplication in third grade-because it has priority-and then for those who finish multiplication allow them to "go on" to subtraction. It is much better to start fourth grade strong in multiplication facts (even if you still count on your fingers for subtraction) than to be a fourth grader who is strong in subtraction, but unable to answer multiplication facts!
Hidden gem of the week
(Something you may never have noticed)

$16

A year's worth of encouragement!

Try these awesome Rocket Math themed success stickers! These round 1 2/3" stickers with an assortment of encouraging sayings. Use them on passing papers or on timings where the student has improved. Several exciting designs to keep students motivated. The 8 sheets (24 on each sheet) provide 192 stickers-enough to give out one a day all year!

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
 
Sincerely,
Dr. Don
Rocket Math
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