# Dd10 knows math facts; now how to add speed?

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She's a rising 5th grader and I'm a little concerned. She isn't math-oriented, but we need to get a little faster so she can do the multi-step multi and division problems more efficiently. She does a speed drill every day, and has for about two years, either mult, div, subt, or add with basic facts (0-9). In TWO minutes she only gets about 20 for mult/div, about 28 for adding or subtracting. Her drills actually say for her age to allow ONE minute for 32 problems, and she is not even finishing them in TWO minutes. And I know that other math books want them doing much more drill problems than this in that time! She likes the speed drills so it's not a pressure thing, etc. I don't even mention it to her, just encourage her to do her best.

She also has done two sets of flash cards per day for a couple yrs too-one number of multi or div (like the x9), one of add/sub.

Now, she was debilitated with Lyme all last winter, and it was in her brain so her cognitive function was impaired and we couldn't do much math for several months. (She is healed now, thankfully.)

She is getting daily practice, with the drills, flash cards, and in use with her math work, but how can we get her speed up a little more?

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The Complete Book of Math Timed Tests is set up in a way that helps with speed. It works on just a few new facts at a time (adding or multiplying by 0 and 1, for example) and gives several days of practice on them before the timed tests on those facts start. There are several timed tests on each group of new facts before practicing the next set.

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It sounds like you are doing well and that continued repetition will improve her speed. .

Is she skip counting each one as she solves the problem? I've seen some kids develop the habit of skip counting each problem, which really slows them down. Most of the time they know the answer but they have developed a habit of counting and they think they have to do it every problem, even when they don't. So, my suggestion, only if she is skip counting, is that you require her to just say the answer and not count it until she can do that for each and every one.

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My dd needs to work on speed too. I guess you could put it that you either have very quick recall of the facts, or you are "doing" the math in your head and so you don't actually "know" them.

I'm trying to work with my rising 5th grader with some of the tricks from Michele's math. We're doing Math Mammoth (I think you are too?) and so between MM level 4 (unfortunately we are behind) and these Michele's math tricks, my hope is to really have her picking up speed in the next couple of months.

I think it would be good to set a goal and a reward, like for doing 30 problems in 2 minutes, then 30 problems in 90 seconds, then 30 in 1 minute, but in slower increments. My dd does well not to beat the clock or be in any kind of competition, but to be her own best time.

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I feel your pain. It was taking my son, 10 and about to be a 5th grader, 90mins to finish a 20 question kumon workbook page.

For us, we used the free downloadable game 'times attack' It was like a math miracle. In two days he went from taking 90 mins for that worksheet to 15 mins. He retained his accuracy but he learned to be automatic and to keep focus. I kept drilling him, we used flashcards, I tried to be as positive as possible but nothing worked like a math computer game. :001_huh:

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It's a problem here too with my rising 4th grader. He knows his facts but if you say the words 'timed test', 'mad minute' or 'speed drill' he freezes. ~sigh~ He hated timezattack because of the timer. In a minute he usually can get about 14 questions. I'm at my wit's end and about to give up :confused:

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It sounds like I am not the only one!

kidlovingmama-that actually WAS the way CLE introduced the speed drills-they would learn and work with just a couple new facts, then start speed drills, and each time they learned a new fact, it was added then to the speed drills.

Ilovelucy-great minds :) I had somehow found Michele's site too and printed stuff out awhile ago. I need to dig it out again. (yes, we're doing MM-helps so much with conceptual but not so much with this issue so far!)

redsquirrel-a df uses Timezattack and likes it-I will have to look into it, thanks!

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Here are some things that worked for us- we do 100 problems in 5 min. So while that doesn't equal 32 problems/min, it is 20/min, and it is okay with me.

One thing that my kids enjoy is racing Dad. Usually we would do 50 for the boys (at thier level) against 100 for Dad.

It also really helped to back up to a place that they could get it right, then add on from there. When we started they both could do all the math facts so I didn't think they would have problems doing all 0-9 on one sheet. But they couldn't seem to move faster. When I went back to only 0, 1, 2, or 3 on the bottom, and added the next number as they finished the test before, things went much better.

I also picked one of the trickier facts (6, 7, and 8) every few days and wrote it several places (on our weekly schedule, on the dry erase on the fridge, on a note card taped to my dashboard) so I would remember to ask it until it was set in thier brains ;).

We also take long breaks between operations, so there is a built in reward for finishing addition- you wont have any math facts for several months! So it also helps if I post fact familes (so all the + 7's) in a few places (by the toilet and by thier bed). Then I talk about how if you just say those to yourself everytime you see them, then you'll have them all memorized in no time and you can take a break from math facts!

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This site, http://www.honorpoint.com , is what helped us get the multiplication down quickly. We used the "drills" page. It times the kids, and I had them continuously trying to beat their scores. FYI, my girls were still using this at 10 and 11 because it was taking too long to get through long division problems. It really was quite helpful.

Monica

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I'm certainly not trying to argue against any of the advice you've received here, but if nothing works:

Does this really matter?

What are the negative consequences of being half as fast at speed drills than you "should" be?

My opinion is that it doesn't matter much. As long as the speed is reasonable and the answers are correct, the child will be able to apply the information to future math, such as reducing fractions, estimating square roots, and factoring.

I attended an elementary school with a heavy emphasis on speed drills. I bombed every one, every week. Didn't mean I had trouble with any other aspect of math, I was just bad at speed drills.

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One thing that has helped my kids is to take the focus off the time and put it on the number of skills by using a stopwatch approach. We have a goal of 100 problems in 5 minutes, but rather than only working 5 minutes and seeing how many we get, we work all 100 problems and time them. Then we encourage them by showing them that every day they are getting a little faster. This small change has made a huge difference in how the kids feel about taking timed tests, because rather than feeling like a failure every day, they see they the are making progress.

They also get to do all of the facts every time. ;)

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I can soooo relate to this. My ds has a bad case of math facts amnesia! He will learn them and then completely forget them shortly thereafter. It's so frustrating. His favorite trick is to memorize the pattern for each number and then sort of skip count to the correct answer. That would be fine if it didn't take all day to do a math problem.

We are starting school this week and I am planning to use some combination of flashcards, facts triangles, drills (just beat his own best time), and online math games each day until he's doing them in his sleep. Call it math facts boot camp.

DS admitted that he was embarrassed that he didn't know his facts, so I hope he'll be motivated to work with me.

I've also decided to let him use the multipication table while we are working on other math in order to cut down on the time and frustration level. Hopefully he willl gradually wean himself off of it.

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I can soooo relate to this. My ds has a bad case of math facts amnesia! He will learn them and then completely forget them shortly thereafter. It's so frustrating. His favorite trick is to memorize the pattern for each number and then sort of skip count to the correct answer. That would be fine if it didn't take all day to do a math problem.

We are starting school this week and I am planning to use some combination of flashcards, facts triangles, drills (just beat his own best time), and online math games each day until he's doing them in his sleep. Call it math facts boot camp.

DS admitted that he was embarrassed that he didn't know his facts, so I hope he'll be motivated to work with me.

I've also decided to let him use the multipication table while we are working on other math in order to cut down on the time and frustration level. Hopefully he willl gradually wean himself off of it.

Samantha, what level of MM are you guys in? We're only going in to 4 even though dd is a rising 5th grader because of pulling her from ps, starting with Singapore, then trying CLE, and now in MM. I am sticking with MM for sure, but we have had to remediate some things (like mental math) that she had never gotten before. I still have concerns but we are moving forward.

I was wondering because I also own LoF Fractions and would love to do some of it, but I'm not sure if she's ready for it yet. I'm guessing she should be at least through level 4 of MM?

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I'm certainly not trying to argue against any of the advice you've received here, but if nothing works:

Does this really matter?

What are the negative consequences of being half as fast at speed drills than you "should" be?

My opinion is that it doesn't matter much. As long as the speed is reasonable and the answers are correct, the child will be able to apply the information to future math, such as reducing fractions, estimating square roots, and factoring.

I attended an elementary school with a heavy emphasis on speed drills. I bombed every one, every week. Didn't mean I had trouble with any other aspect of math, I was just bad at speed drills.

For us it matters because at the speed my kids normally do math facts, it means they are, in some way, counting the answer to every little fact. And when you add that to every step of a "big" multiplication or long division problem, then math becomes slower and slower, and they get crankier and crankier about it. It makes a huge difference to how math goes everyday if they KNOW what 7 x 6 is instead of having to figure it out 4 times when they are doing 6962 x 787.

We don't by any means focus on math drills, but starting about 3rd grade, usually in the spring semester we work on math facts. Like I said in my other post once they finish one operation we stop math facts for a while. So last year my 3rd grader did addition until he passed 100 facts/5 min, my 4th grader reviewed addition (passed the first test) did subtraction (passed in just a week or two) and did multiplication.

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Drill, baby, drill.

The speed will come, but keep reviewing the facts.

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Samantha, what level of MM are you guys in?

We're only going in to 4 even though dd is a rising 5th grader because of pulling her from ps, starting with Singapore, then trying CLE, and now in MM. I am sticking with MM for sure, but we have had to remediate some things (like mental math) that she had never gotten before. I still have concerns but we are moving forward.

I was wondering because I also own LoF Fractions and would love to do some of it, but I'm not sure if she's ready for it yet. I'm guessing she should be at least through level 4 of MM?

I ordered the MM upper elem. blue series (4-6), which breaks the math down by topic instead of by grade. We are going to start with the Multiplication 2 book, which I believe pulls from 4th and 5th grade (but I could be wrong), as review and to learn mental math skills (ds didn't learn this in ps--I just pulled him out midway through last year).

DS really wants to do LOF b/c he's language arts-minded and loves the approach. We did quite a bit of work on fractions last semester, so I think once he gets those math facts down, he'll be ready.

DS is a bit of a sticky widget with math. Honestly, I'm going to figure out the exact implementation as we go! :D

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For us it matters because at the speed my kids normally do math facts, it means they are, in some way, counting the answer to every little fact. And when you add that to every step of a "big" multiplication or long division problem, then math becomes slower and slower, and they get crankier and crankier about it. It makes a huge difference to how math goes everyday if they KNOW what 7 x 6 is instead of having to figure it out 4 times when they are doing 6962 x 787.

:iagree: I'm not just wanting her to get faster in terms of the speed drills-I could care less about that. But speed really does become important when doing multi-level div/mult.

I like the honorpoint link-I like that they have the answer there to pick from and think that might help bridge the gap to gaining speed, instead of trying to sit there and figure out what the answer should be. By choosing the answer enough times, I think it will cement the fact with the answer it should have.

And I'm going to go back to more drill, drill, drill til she knows it in her sleep!

Edited by HappyGrace
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I like the honorpoint link-I like that they have the answer there to pick from and think that might help bridge the gap to gaining speed, instead of trying to sit there and figure out what the answer should be.

That's why I like those triangle math flashcards. It just makes sense to me (a visual learner like my dd) to see the family together so that you get to where you will know what's missing when you see 13-7.

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We LOVE the triangle flash cards-us them with both dc. I have gotten lazy with them, haven't done in about a year-I'll have to drag them out again! I'm going to go thru this whole thread again and make a list of drill ideas and have them pick one each day (on top of their speed drill and one flash card set per day).

I was just reading I think on the high school board someone saying their 13 yo was having trouble with math facts and it was really affecting him in moving on to algebra. Jann in TX, an amazing poster on that board who is a higher level math teacher, says having the math facts down cold is IMPERATIVE for algebra. So I'm going to do tons of drill this year! And I was reading another old post from a woman who has her dc keep drilling-"constant, sustained drill of math facts"-way up through 8th grade, and that it is such a huge help in algebra!

Here is a link for free triangle cards to print out, if anyone wants to try them:

http://donnayoung.org/math/tricards.htm

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I thought I'd come back to this thread since I thought I might have something useful to add.

I think it's worth trying to figure out WHY it takes her a long time to retrieve the answers. Is she doing some kind of "figuring it out" to get the answer? Or do they just take a while to surface?

When I was a child, I never did memorize the entire multiplication table to 12, which was expected in my school. Instead, I memorized most of it, and had various tricks to get to the ones I didn't memorize. Some skip counting, some addition, etc. For example, I arrived at 8x4 and 9x4 by adding (8x2)+(8x2) or (9x2)+(9x2). I was able to do this as fast as most of you seem to be expecting your kids to get these answers (100 problems in 5 minutes wouldn't have been an issue), but it wasn't as fast as was required in my school.

As an adult, I came back to this, on the theory that I couldn't ask my kids to do something I never succeeded at myself. What I found is this:

* Because my "tricks" were reasonably fast and accurate, I needed to consciously stop using them. In order to do this, I needed to focus on changing one of them at a time. So I might set myself the task of memorizing 7x9, and require myself NOT to use a trick to get the answer when doing a drill. If I didn't have immediate recall, I stopped the drill and worked on that fact until I remembered it, and then resumed the drill. Continuing on through the drill using a "trick" was not helpful, because that simply speeded up my ability to use the trick, rather than improving my recall of the fact.

If I were trying to do this with a child, I might make a note of which facts didn't have immediate recall, and work on one of those at a time, only adding it into the general drill when recall was immediate. I would also probably do the drill orally, so I could make note of specific trouble spots.

* I was greatly helped by the iPhone/iPod touch software "Math Drills" by Instant Interactive. The most helpful thing about it is that it sets a very high bar for how fast you need to be in order to earn the "green" on a particular fact. But it also allows you to specify exactly which facts are tested and do mixed drills. I highly recommend it for multiplication and division practice, it was \$2 well-spent.

Incidentally, I find that if I don't review the multiplication facts every week, I still lose track of the ones that were hard for me to begin with.

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I thought I'd come back to this thread since I thought I might have something useful to add.

I think it's worth trying to figure out WHY it takes her a long time to retrieve the answers. Is she doing some kind of "figuring it out" to get the answer? Or do they just take a while to surface?

When I was a child, I never did memorize the entire multiplication table to 12, which was expected in my school. Instead, I memorized most of it, and had various tricks to get to the ones I didn't memorize. Some skip counting, some addition, etc. For example, I arrived at 8x4 and 9x4 by adding (8x2)+(8x2) or (9x2)+(9x2). I was able to do this as fast as most of you seem to be expecting your kids to get these answers (100 problems in 5 minutes wouldn't have been an issue), but it wasn't as fast as was required in my school.

As an adult, I came back to this, on the theory that I couldn't ask my kids to do something I never succeeded at myself. What I found is this:

* Because my "tricks" were reasonably fast and accurate, I needed to consciously stop using them. In order to do this, I needed to focus on changing one of them at a time. So I might set myself the task of memorizing 7x9, and require myself NOT to use a trick to get the answer when doing a drill. If I didn't have immediate recall, I stopped the drill and worked on that fact until I remembered it, and then resumed the drill. Continuing on through the drill using a "trick" was not helpful, because that simply speeded up my ability to use the trick, rather than improving my recall of the fact.

If I were trying to do this with a child, I might make a note of which facts didn't have immediate recall, and work on one of those at a time, only adding it into the general drill when recall was immediate. I would also probably do the drill orally, so I could make note of specific trouble spots.

* I was greatly helped by the iPhone/iPod touch software "Math Drills" by Instant Interactive. The most helpful thing about it is that it sets a very high bar for how fast you need to be in order to earn the "green" on a particular fact. But it also allows you to specify exactly which facts are tested and do mixed drills. I highly recommend it for multiplication and division practice, it was \$2 well-spent.

Incidentally, I find that if I don't review the multiplication facts every week, I still lose track of the ones that were hard for me to begin with.

This was all helpful, thank you! I think she is doing a combo of tricks/doesn't know it cold. I'm going to try some oral and try to pinpoint what is going on and also see if I can isolate more difficult facts to focus on-wonderful idea-thank!

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so, hope i'm not repeating. With my children I have always drilled orally at least once a week, but ideally 3 times a week. I use a chart of the facts from the back of the BJU TE and place a check in pencil when I think that the fact is answered quickly enough. After it had been answered quickly for several sessions in a row I would place a star over the check. My DC liked seeing their progress on the chart. It gave them a felling of accomplishment. Then after moving so far on the chart I would give a special snack for that accomplishment. You can make your own chart just based on the facts that need practice.

I designed my own worksheet drills specifically based on the facts that needed work, with others thrown in for review. The ones needing work I would repeat over and over on the worksheets.

We also use the Math U see online drill because I like the way the facts are grouped. I just assign which groups of facts they are to practice and they do it online themselves during their independent work.

Timez Attack just seemed like a waste of time to me. Too much time spent playing a game that wasn't based on the facts my DC needed to learn. Online worksheet generators don't work for me for the same reason. I want to be able to choose only specific facts that need practice.

For us the best way to get that facts memorized for automatic recall was a combination of online drill, daily worksheets and regular oral quizzing by me. I seem to remember in my Math methodology class in college that research pointed towards regular paper and pencil drills as the best way to ensure rapid recall. I didn't believe it at the time. All these years later I've come to the conclusion it's true. I didn't start seeing progress until I started using my own drill sheets daily.

Hope you find a solution that works for you and your DC.

Shannon

This was all helpful, thank you! I think she is doing a combo of tricks/doesn't know it cold. I'm going to try some oral and try to pinpoint what is going on and also see if I can isolate more difficult facts to focus on-wonderful idea-thank!
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Just want to say yes and amen to this as one who has paid the silly price of not doing it well with the guinea pig child and thinking, "Well why does speed matter anyway?" Oh boy it matters when you're doing some massive long division in the midst of a decimal issue problem and your child wants to throw the book across the room because the division is of 7s, 8s and 9s (the most troubling math facts for him).

" was just reading I think on the high school board someone saying their 13 yo was having trouble with math facts and it was really affecting him in moving on to algebra. Jann in TX, an amazing poster on that board who is a higher level math teacher, says having the math facts down cold is IMPERATIVE for algebra"

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