Knowing basic math facts is essential in doing well in higher level math. Everything from decimals to fractions to algebra to trigonometry require automaticity in basic facts–addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Automaticity refers to knowing something so well that it becomes automatic, like driving a car. We don’t think about activating the wipers, using our turn signal or applying the brakes as we drive, we just do it. This is automaticity. And we need it in math, too.
In fourth grade, students are expected to already have achieved mastery–and automaticity–in addition, subtraction and multiplication (1-12’s). Unfortunately, many students haven’t reached a mastery level and, therefore, are not automatic. This inhibits their ability to quickly and correctly answer other, more difficult questions in math. Students get “stuck” on trying to figure out the multiplication involved that they lose the rhythm and steps required to answer the problem. So, what do we do? We practice and we practice and we practice some more!
We are practicing together as a class to get better at basic math facts using a program called Rocket Math. Rocket Math is a ten-minutes-a-day supplemental math facts practice curriculum. It is a uniquely structured curriculum for the sequential practice and mastery of math facts. Students learn 2 facts at a time and their reverses on each worksheet in a carefully controlled sequence which enables mastery at an individualized pace. Students practice orally with a partner every day and then take a one-minute test to assess when they are ready to move to the next set of facts based on an individualized goal.
Want to help your student at home? Each day, after students take their one-minute test, they do one of two things: 1. They turn in their paper in their Rocket Math folder to be checked or 2. They take their paper home to practice. Students turn in their paper if they completed enough test items to meet their goal. If their answers are correct, they move to the next level the following day. If they did not complete enough problems, they take their paper home to practice. This is where you come in!
In just a few minutes a day, you can help your child master their basic multiplication facts! Just have your student practice the problems on the perimeter of their paper while you time them and integrate our correction procedure. Our what, you ask? Our correction procedure. If your student makes and error or takes more than a second or two to answer the problem, you say the problem and answer to them and ask them to repeat it three times. Then, the child goes back three problems to get a ‘running start’ at the missed problem. This helps to solidify the math fact in their head and gives them a positive experience when they get back to the problem you just corrected them on and are able to quickly answer it. Still need more explanation on how to help your student? Check out this video!