Better than the “Mad Minute” Drills

15 Nov

It doesn’t surprise me at this point, but I have many 9th graders who

  1.  can’t multiply… by 2, let alone by 8.
  2. count 12-2 or 8+2 on their fingers. Hell, I’ve even seen 3+2 need fingers.
  3. forget how to do 4-3 when taught the existence of a 3-4.

So what do we do as high school math teachers? Ignore this and hand them a calculator? (Btw, the answer is NO. Speed does matter by this point and it is not enough that “at least they can do it.”)

Well, if you have an entire class of these students (like my current Algebra support class or my previous Twilight classes), try using the following FOLDER METHOD (for lack of a cooler name). It’s similar to the 1-Minute Madness (a much better name), but so much better! It’s cleaner logistically and it forces them to work faster and faster.

THE FOLDERS:Everyday that students walk in, I quickly pass out their folders with their names on them (which are already in order because they always pass them up in order.)

In each of their folders is one page each of their times tables*.

I put 5 minutes on the clock* and when I say GO and start the clock, everyone opens their folders and works on finishing just the first page as fast as they can. When they finish, they raise their hands and my TA or I will walk around writing the time at which they finished it in red. They then must close their folders and wait for everyone to finish.

After about 5 minutes, if anyone is not done, simply end the time and have them pass up the folders in order, placing their folder on top of the stack being passed to them. (The first row then passes the folders down all the way to the left/right in order the same way, placing their stack on top of the stack being passed to them. The last person w/ the stack of all the folders then hands it to my TA.)


GRADING:My TA then quickly corrects them (with transparencies that have the answers on them) and logs the time in which they finished directly onto their folders (see picture to right).

Each worksheet is created to be finished UNDER 2 MINUTES and to save paper, the same times table is copied on to the front and back of each page (they only work on one side).

From here, I go through the folders and do one of two things:
  • If the student PASSED: remove the page he/she just did. If the back side is still blank, I put it back into my pile of extra copies to be re-used for someone else. If the back is already complete, toss it.
  • If the student DID NOT PASS: just turn the paper over if the back was blank, or replace the page with a blank one from the pile of extra copies.
LOGISTICS: After having gone through it for the second year this year, I recommend a few quick things.
  • The order for the times table should be the twos (2), fives (5), tens (10), then perfect squares. Then move on to the 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9s.
  • Having the students write their own times on their papers only works the first couple of times before they realize they can LIE. Try to have a TA or maybe another teacher w/ a conference period next door to just help you out the first 5 minutes of class. It’s timed so it never takes longer than 5 minutes. I have about 3 students who are done w/ all that I have and so they help write the times when my TA is absent.
  • Make sure they close their folders after they get their times written. Often, they want to go back and check and fix all their mistakes, defeating the purpose of timing them. It’s also a very good indicator to see when the entire class is done.
  • For the 2, 5, 10s, pass them only if they finish under 1:45 instead of the complete 2 minutes. If they take 1:59, they’re probably just professional finger counters.
  • See how I logged their times in the picture? I recommend just writing “twos” once and using the ditto sign (“) underneath for all the subsequent ones. I think this will be visually much easier for the kids (as well as the teacher) to see how many times they are needing to repeat before moving on.
  • I’m in the process of purchasing one of these to help me organize all my extra copies.
What do they do AFTER they finish the times tables?
So this is something that I have been working on and is still an ongoing process (feedback more than welcome!).

Well, first off, I think I should add an extra mixed times table page, and a second mixed times table page with negatives and positives. THEN give them the Algebra Intro* and maybe add another Integer Algebra Intro.

THEN I want to move them on to helping them with number sense, and then of course with adding and subtracting integers.
Anyways, all that I have is in the Box widget to the right. I will post more on number sense and the development and meaning of those sheets next.

*These are all provided in the Box widget to the left.

11/17 UPDATE here

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