Maximizing the Minutes Mini Series {Math}

Hi friends!  I'm back with you today for the second installment of my Maximizing the Minutes Mini Series.

All Posts in This Series:

Today is all about how I squeeze in a TON of skills in just a few moments to kick-off our math block.
A couple of things that I've noticed students need LOTS of practice with over the years is problem-solving and fluency practice, so those are the things I focus on during the first few minutes every single day.

Here's how it looks:

Super Speed Math
Just like with Super Speed 1,000 that I showed you in the first installment, Super Speed Math is a Whole Brain Teaching strategy.  It takes 4 minutes per day and the impact is incredible.

This is a blurb from the Whole Brain Website - "If your students play SuperSpeed Math for only a few minutes, several times a week, you’ll see substantial improvements in overall mathematics accuracy; gains of 20% within a month are not uncommon."

I use high/low pairings to partner students - this is crucial for support.  Each student is given a super speed fact page (we start with addition) and the partners share an answer key (which is laminated so I can use year after year).

As with all partnerships in my classroom, the student with the birthday that comes first in the year goes first.  Every day.  No arguing.  No drama.  I set a timer on our interactive board for one minute.  The first partner reads as many addition facts (with answers) as he/she can in one minute.  One of the important components is that students read the entire problem (ex. 1 + 2 = 3) instead of just giving the answer (3).  This helps that fact to stick in the brain.  If the student makes a mistake, their partner stops them and says the problem correctly, then the student repeats the problem correctly before continuing. 

At the end of one-minute, the student draws a small dot by the last problem he/she said correctly.  Then, the student gets one more minute to try it again.  They start back at the same spot and try to beat their previous record (giving them their ALL TIME BEST). 

At the end of that minute, if a student made an all-time best, he/she will cross out one row of problems (prompting them to begin one row down the following day). 

Then, it is the other partners turn.  One minute for the first try.  One minute to try to make an all-time best.  I made this monster-themed "All Time Best" sheet for my students to keep in their data folders.  They just record the date they made an all-time best on the form.  They love trying to fill it up!

Four minutes.  That is it.  It's quick and effective.  My favorite part is that students are competing against themselves instead of others.  Every student can be successful.  Every student can build fluency.  Every student can earn their own all-time-bests.  Once a student completes the addition Super Speed, they move on to subtraction and then even multiplication!

Here's a little video from YouTube showing a class doing SuperSpeed Math.

You can download SuperSpeed Math for FREE, but you have to register to access all of the free downloads on the WBT website. It's easy! Just register, then click on the "Free eBooks" tab at the top and select "general." You'll see LOTS of freebies pop up. SuperSpeed Math is on the third page of freebies (right now, at least).

Problem Solving
Let's face it, problem solving is crucial for mathematicians, yet often textbooks only provide a day or so of these per unit.  Not enough to be effective.

Even when they're provided, I found that many of the story problems are similar.  They always address the same skills.

So....this year, we decided to develop our own Word Problems to meet all of our 2nd grade standards.  We are creating them for each month of the year as the school year goes along.  Each day, students will do one word problem.  I will display this problem on the board as Super Speed Math finishes.  With their partner, they read this problem.  Then, they think about how to solve it as they transition back to their seats.  Once at their seat, they take out their notebook and have about one minute to try to solve it.  Then we talk it through and check it together.  The entire process usually takes 2-3 minutes.

So, in the first 7-8 minutes of our math block we have squeezed in fluency practice and problem solving practice.  By doing this daily, the little things become the BIG things.  Amazing progress!

An important thing to note about our word problems is that we designed each day of the week to hit a different standard.  So, on Mondays the word problem will focus on operations, on Tuesday it will focus on place value, on Wednesday it will focus on measurement (includes time/money), on Thursday it will focus on geometry, and on Friday it will focus on data/graphing.  So, in addition to problem solving skills, these word problems are providing an important spiral (preview and review of concepts throughout the year).

Since we've designed it to use on the board, they each include an interactive table of contents, making it super quick to click on the problem of the day.

In addition to the daily word problems, answers are also included to display that show a visual when appropriate.

Here's a peek at our November set...

We also offer the entire year's BUNDLE at a discounted price HERE.

I hope these gave you some ideas of how to maximize your time in math!  I'll be back soon for a look at maximizing time in WRITING.


  1. This is an awesome post, Amanda! Now I need to go read the Reading one {I've been slacking on my blog reading :)}. I'm always looking for ways to squeeze in more skills to our block and I love the Whole Brain Math SuperSpeed. And of course everything you make is fabulous so now I have to have your problem solving through the year!!!! You rock!

    Across the Hall in 2nd Grade

  2. I started the super speed sight word fluency a few weeks ago and I am hooked!! I think the math edition is going to have to be next!! Thank you, so much for sharing!!



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