Dr. Don's HINTS AND TIPS 
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
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If you are seeing this in your school, you need Rocket Math!

Recently I gave my pre-service student teachers at Portland State University an assignment to do screening tests of basic skills in their placements. I was shocked to see how few of the screening tests showed students who were fluent with basic, single-digit math facts, where they could answer math facts as quickly as they could write. When children cannot answer math facts quickly and easily they are placed at a unnecessary disadvantage when it comes to doing math.

It is true that learning math facts takes time. No one can learn all of them in a matter of a few days or a week. It takes most students daily practice for months to learn all the facts in an operation. But when you consider that we require students to attend school five hours a day for years and years, it is pretty shocking to realize how many children do not have fluent mastery of math facts when they get to middle school. When the job can be done in ten minutes a day, and every child could become fluent in all four operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division by the end of fourth grade, why isn't it?

Sometimes, teachers have been taught in their schools of education that helping children memorize things is somehow harmful. With that belief, teachers won't try to do something systematic like Rocket Math. But after a year or two teaching, especially upper elementary grades, and struggling to teach higher math concepts to children who are interrupted by finger counting in the middle of every single computation, teachers learn that belief is simply wrong. Children are helped immensely by memorizing basic math facts. It enables them to have "number sense," to easily appreciate the relationships among numerals, and to easily do computation.

Probably the main reason more students are not taught math facts, to the level they need, is that teachers are not aware of a tool that can help them do that. They don't know that students enjoy doing learning math facts when it is done right. They don't know that it can be done as a simple routine that takes ten minutes a day. They don't know how easily students can master all of the facts. In short, they don't know that Rocket Math exists. Someday a friend of theirs will tell them, because that is how Rocket Math spreads-by word-of-mouth.

If you read this, and you have never seen Rocket Math in action, you may be skeptical. Tell you what, write to me and if you need to see it in action to believe me, and don't have a friend using Rocket Math, I'll send you a free subscription to try it out.
SAVE
15%
ON A SUBSCRIPTION UPGRADE (item #2999) 
Use Coupon Code  UPGRADE15%OFF when you order.
Offer Expires 5/31/2016. Item #2999  Upgrade  a Basic to a Universal Subscription, normal price of $20 is discounted, may be used more than once.
Twitter posting of proud Students celebrating a Rocket Math accomplishment!


Amy Morgan, at Highland Elementary School tweeted: Wow! Ten scholars passed Rocket Math today. Now we are going to try to beat that number tomorrow!
 
Send me your photos!  
NEW!!  
HOME versions of Rocket Math Apps became available this week.  
Rocket Math HOME
Addition App
Available in the
FREE  trial to start.
Works the same at the school versions, but with a $2.99 in-app purchase to continue past Level K.
Rocket Math HOME
Multiplication App
Available in the

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
HOW ROCKET MATH IS LIKE FEEDING MUSH TO A BABY!
Getting math facts "down" is like getting mush down!

Question of the week
Can 2nd graders begin multiplication facts?

Jen asks:
Hi Don,
I am a 2nd grader teacher and LOVE the Rocket Math program. Currently my students are on the addition and subtractions tests. I have had a handful of students pass addition and subtraction, but instead of moving them on to multiplication, I started them on an addition challenge (much higher goals). Not sure if that was a good idea, I just didn't feel they were ready for multiplication. Do you suggest that 2nd graders do Rocket Math multiplication? Thank you for any help!


Dr. Don answers:
Hi Jennifer,
              We have a couple of new options. You can use the   Add to 20 program for your second graders who have passed all the subtraction worksheets. That will reinforce the single digit facts but also extend to the Common Core expectations that students would be fluent with combinations like 11+7 and 13+4. The worksheets of the Add to 20 program are part of the Universal subscription. I plan to get Subtract from 20 done soon, and I will also add that to the Universal subscription. So if you want to address those Common Core objectives, those two programs are things you can assign to 2nd graders who finish basic 1s-9s subtraction.

We also have another program,  Skip Counting, that is part of the Universal subscription. That teaches students the count-by series, such as counting by 4s (4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, etc) to 40, and 9s to 90. The skill of skip counting is a great transition to multiplication because students are essentially learning successive addition when they are skip counting. So Skip Counting would be a great program for second graders after subtraction, especially good for helping them get ready for multiplication.

As far as when to start multiplication, it depends on your students' concept development. Before beginning to memorize multiplication it is important that students understand the process of multiplication and what it means. If they have done skip counting, successive addition and/or drawn arrays then they probably understand multiplication. Ultimately the best test is whether, given unlimited time, but no help, those students can figure out any single digit multiplication fact, such as 7 x 9. [Don't ask an easy one like 3 x 4, as they might have learned that by heart already.] If they can figure out any multiplication fact successfully, then they understand the concept. If they cannot figure it out, then they need more conceptual work before starting to memorize multiplication. So the answer about whether second graders are ready for multiplication facts is not necessarily the same for all students.

Hidden gem of the week
(Something you may never have noticed)
FREE
1-Minute math facts tests


These Rocket Math 1-minute timed tests are available for free in all four operations.  Click the links above or visit our website and find them under Resources/Free Resources and Download/Free Math Fluency Tests.  On that page you can also find the Writing Speed Test so you can compare a student's writing speed with speed of writing answers to math facts. The math facts should be at least 85% as fast as just writing.  The goal in Rocket Math is for students to be equally fast at both.  
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
phone (888) 488-4854
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