Tuesday, April 12, 2016
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Why would Rocket Math be frustrating your students?

If students (and parents) are really frustrated, 
Rocket Math is not being done the right way.

How should Rocket Math be done?
  • Students should be practicing orally two or three minutes each day in school .
  • Students should be practicing again at home for another two or three minutes.
  • SOME students who need it, should be getting a second practice session during the day at school.
  • When practicing the students should be saying the facts aloud and the answers.
  • Students should be practicing with a partner who has an answer key.
  • Partners should do the correction procedure if the student hesitates on any of the facts they are practicing.
  • This practice should occur every day-not just once or twice a week.
With good practice several days running any child can learn those two new facts to automaticity and should be able to write the answers to those facts without hesitation-as fast as he or she can read the facts and write the answers. This is the point of Rocket Math and it works when done properly. How could this go wrong? Here are some things to look for that are WRONG!
  • Testing only without the daily oral practice. Teachers sometimes prefer just giving tests and think this will accomplish the same thing, but it doesn't. The learning occurs during the practice sessions with the partner. Without orally practicing students are not all going to progress as well as they should, and some will become very frustrated.
  • Students who have bad habits that interfere with their ability to write quickly, such as erasing answers, counting on their fingers, looking at the clock, skipping around or writing answers in complicated patterns.
  • Setting goals faster than students can actually write. (How this happens I haven't a clue, but it does.) Students know the facts without hesitation but can't write as fast as their goals demand. If they have practiced well for a few days and they can orally answer the facts without hesitation-giving 40 or more answers orally in one minute-reset their goals to what they have been doing and let them move on. Students don't have to pass every day, but they should pass within six days.
Remember, the point is for students to practice the two new math facts on the sheet and add them to the ones they already know. As long as students can answer facts without hesitation (after reading the fact aloud they have the answer already in mind) then they know their facts well enough. This should not be driving anyone crazy and if we do it right it is fun and enjoyable-even though it is work.
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.
Harrison Elementary, Twin Falls, Idaho
 4th grade Rocket Math achievers  honored. 

The school held an assembly to honor students who have achieved in Rocket Math.  This photo was posted of the 4th graders who accomplished their goal in May! 
Send me your photos!  
HOME versions of Rocket Math Apps now available .  
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

Video Clip of the Week

How to use the Rocket Chart to keep track of student progress. 

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.
Question of the week

Because you need to remember these facts your whole life!
Dr. Don answers:
Learning all the addition facts well should take a while. What's more, it is important to spread this learning task out over weeks and months. Why? Because the longer you spend learning something the better you learn it and the longer you remember it. Conversely, when you cram learning into a short period of time you will likely forget it soon. Remember, cramming for exams in high school or college? Remember, what you learned? Probably not.

Rocket Math is designed to motivate students to work through a long task of learning nearly 100 facts in addition. It is broken down in bite-sized pieces for a couple of reasons. One, so each piece is not too much to memorize (nobody can memorize ten similar things at once). Two, so students can experience success along the way. Little successes keep them motivated for the long haul, which is a key point.

Rocket Math is purposely demanding. We want student to learn the facts to the point of instant recall, without any hesitation. So we expect them to be able to write the answers to the facts as fast as their little fingers can carry them-without any having to stop and think about on the way. That is called the level of automaticity. One way to do this would be to simply require all students to practice for a week on each set. That wouldn't be terrible, but it wouldn't be motivating and it wouldn't take into account learning differences-it wouldn't differentiate properly. Some students can learn facts to that level in 3 or 4 practice sessions while others may take 10 or more practice sessions to get to the level of automaticity.

Practice must be focused on learning. It is very important that practice has to be focused on learning, rather than just "going through the motions." It is critical that students realize they can move on as soon as they learn these facts, and not until then. If everyone moved on every week regardless of learning differences, it would be too soon (moving on too fast) for some students and too slow for others.
Students need to meet the rigorous tests of Rocket Math and it is optimal that they spend several days on each set. With 26 sets to master and 90 days in a semester, we should not expect students to master an operation in less than a semester. It is also acceptable for a student to take up to a school year to learn all the addition facts. If schools routinely taught addition in first grade, subtraction in second, multiplication in third and division in fourth grade, their students would find math computation a breeze. Even better, they would remember those facts, that took them a school year to learn, for life. Isn't that really the point?

Coming Attraction!
(Something new coming to the Universal subscription!)
Subtract from 20
(17-6, 16-12, 20-3)

This program is being proofed and will be posted into its own drawer as part of the Universal subscription in a week or two.  This should help with Common Core expectations.  It should come after learning the 1s through 9s subtraction facts.  Students who have mastered those facts should find these quite easy to master.  
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
Dr. Don
Rocket Math
phone (888) 488-4854
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