"Rocket Math" is a nickname given by many teachers to the program Mastering Math Facts which was created by Donald B. Crawford, PhD. and published by the Otter Creek Institute. Many teachers have shared resources they have made to accompany this program and they can be found by searching the Internet. DadsWorksheets.com has also published at-home practice pages to accompany this program on their website. It is a research based, strategic method for helping students master basic math facts. I have used it in my classroom for years and I love it! It only takes about 5 minutes each day to complete.
How I Organize and Run Rocket Math in My Classroom
First, I create a box or crate for each type of Rocket Math. I use the file boxes with a snap on lid from Wal-mart but you could use an open top crate or some other configuration. You need only to be able to separate the differently lettered levels. In the crate, I put 26 hanging file folders and label each tab with a letter of the alphabet. I color coded the file folders, using red folders for addition, green folders for subtraction, yellow folders for division, and blue folders for multiplication. I print pages for each level of Rocket Math and file them into the appropriate hanging folder. So, I print the Addition Rocket Math pages and then put the A’s in the A folder, the B’s in the B folder, etc.
Next, I create a Rocket Math folder for each student. You can use a two pocket folder or a plain file folder. On the front of the folder, I glue the RocketMath Folder label. Then, I write each child’s name on it and laminate. After the folders are laminated, I staple in the student rockets for tracking their progress. On the inside, on the left, I staple the addition student rocket. I would wait until they are ready to staple the subtraction rocket on the right. You could also use a 2 pocket folder for this.
I also enjoy having a class rocket where students can move their own personal rockets up as they achieve higher levels. It is a good motivator and source of pride. I project the student rocket onto a large sheet of bulletin board paper and trace it to create this class sized rocket.
Then, I send home my parent letter explaining the Rocket Math process.
After this, I begin Rocket Math with my students. We begin with the handwriting assessment included in the Rocket Math packet from Otter Creek. It assess how quickly students can write and gives them a goal number of problems to complete on the timed test based on their ability. Students who have goals below 40, I indicate this goal on their folder so I don’t forget. On their worksheets, I use my red pen to cross out the problems they don't have to do to earn 100. After each 100, I increase the goal of these students by 1, so that eventually, they have a goal of 40 like everyone else.
After we have a goal in mind, we learn how to do Rocket Math. We talk about moving quickly and not looking around at our neighbors or at the window. We talk about not stopping to erase, but instead, crossing out the wrong answer and writing our new answer nearby.
All students begin with a level A sheet in their folders. I give my students 1 minute and 30 seconds to reach their goal. Before we begin writing, we spend the first 1 minute and 30 seconds practicing in our heads. They use their fingers to point to each problem and to say it silently along with the answer. Students are instructed to continue until the timer beeps.
Once their practice is finished, then I say “pencil’s ready” and my students know it is time to write their answers. I give them a “ready, set, go” and then they can write their answers. When the timer beeps to indicate the end of the time, I ask students to hold their hands up in the air to ensure no one keeps writing. Then, I have students put their papers inside of their folders and close them. I then ask who thinks they made a 100. We discuss that to make a 100, they must have finished all of the questions, or all of the questions that were not crossed out (if they had a goal lower than 40). I take up these folders and hand them off to my assistant to grade. I take up the rest of the folder by saying “who needs to practice more tonight and try again tomorrow?” The students who did not achieve a 100, I go ahead and replace their worksheets with the same letter they had before. If they made a 100, then I replace their worksheet with the next letter up. If they made a 100, they get to color in the corresponding letter on their student rockets inside of their folder and move their rocket up on the class rocket.