I recently gave the Percent of a Number Speed Skills Challenge module to my students. The goal of this post is to share my classroom results and my observations in order that this may benefit you, my fellow middle school math teacher. The Percent of a Number module is available as a free download on my Speed Skills Challenge page so if you find this post interesting please follow the link over and download it to use in your classroom.
The Speed Skills Challenge Foundational Fluency Program
The Speed Skills Challenge Foundational Fluency Program was recently released here on DigitalLesson.com. I estimate that I spent approximately 100 hours creating the Speed Skills Challenge. The goals of this program are to build foundational skills that will help students to be successful in our mathematics classes, score higher on standardized tests, and become more powerful mathematically.
I won’t take the time here to go into all of the details of the Speed Skills Challenge Program but you can click on the link in this sentence for more information. Suffice it to say that the Speed Skills Challenge is comprised of 16 modules, each with five 50-problem tests to be taken in a short, timed burst of about 3 minutes. At the conclusion of each module students compile their personal statistics and complete a personal line graph to show their progress over the five timed tests. Speed Skills is a more powerful, robust version of the speed drills that I took as a kid to practice my multiplication tables.
The Speed Skills modules include Integer Operations, Exponents, Two-Step Equations, Scientific Notation, GCF and LCM, Powers of Ten, Squares and Square Roots, Rounding Numbers, Divisibility Rules, Tipping, Perimeter and Area of a Rectangle, Exponent Operations, and Percent of a Number.
Percent of a Number
One of my favorite modules is Percent of a Number. I really like this module for two reasons. First of all, there are so many practical applications for Percent of a Number. Tipping, discounts, markups, interest, and commissions are just a few of the real life applications of Percent of a Number.
The other reason this is one of my favorite modules is that with some quick (yet powerful) teaching we can dramatically improve student results. The students see their immediate progress and this acts as extra motivation for them to excel.
How I Used the Percent of a Number Module
The Speed Skills Challenge Program can be used to introduce a new concept, to strengthen a skill currently being taught in class, or to review skills that have been previously taught. Having used this module before, I decided to use the Percent of a Number module to introduce this concept. This meant that on Speed Skill # 1 many students scored less than 5 problems correct out of 50 in a 3-minute time period.
After Percent of a Number Speed Skill # 1 I took a few minutes to explain to student how to easily determine 1% and 10% of a number simply by moving the decimal point. With this foundation I then showed them how easy it is to determine 2%, 3%, 4%, 5% and 20%, 30%, 40%, and 50%. We also briefly discussed 100%, 200%, 300%, 400%, 500%, and 1000%. You can find all of the teaching tips I shared with my students in the teacher notes of the free Percent of a Number download on our Speed Skills Challenge page.
My Classroom Results
All six of my classes (3 different math levels) took the Percent of a Number Speed Skills Challenge. Each day for 5 days they took a timed Speed Skill test with 50 problems to complete in 3 minutes. Keeping in mind that they took the first of the five Speed Skill Challenges in the module as a baseline (without any teaching this year on the topic) here are the results:
6th grade Fast-Paced results (2 classes):
- Class 1 went from an average (mean) of 4.0 correct on Speed Skill # 1 to an average (mean) of 28.8 correct on Speed Skill #5.
- Class 2 went from an average (mean) of 6.2 correct on Speed Skill # 1 to an average (mean) of 28.5 correct on Speed Skill #5.
7th grade Pre-Algebra results (2 classes):
- Class 1 went from an average (mean) of 7.0 correct on Speed Skill # 1 to an average (mean) of 32.2 correct on Speed Skill #5.
- Class 2 went from an average (mean) of 8.0 correct on Speed Skill # 1 to an average (mean) of 32.8 correct on Speed Skill #5.
6th grade Pre-Algebra Honors results (2 classes)
- Class 1 went from an average (mean) of 12.6 correct on Speed Skill # 1 to an average (mean) of 43.5 correct on Speed Skill #5.
- Class 2 went from an average (mean) of 17.0 correct on Speed Skill # 1 to an average (mean) of 43.6 correct on Speed Skill #5.
Needless to say, I was very encouraged by the results. Some students practiced the Percent of a Number skill at home, while I’m sure that many did not. I left the 5-day module knowing that many of my students now have a much stronger understanding and ability in the Percent of a Number skill.
Top Individual Student Results
Three of my top individual results are as follows:
- Student A went from 21 correct in 3 minutes to 50 correct in 2:29.
- Student B went from 23 correct in 3 minutes to 50 correct in 2:02.
- Student C went from 26 correct in 3 minutes to 50 correct in 1:55.
I love how the Speed Skills Challenge not only measures accuracy but also speed. This allows those top students who get most of the problems correct on the first or second day to strive to lower their time, even if they cannot get a higher score. I also know that faster speed is an indication of a move toward automaticity, where students can solve a problem almost instantly because they understand it thoroughly.
Student Personal Statistics and Line Graph
At the conclusion of the Day 5 Speed Skill students complete a set of personal statistics that show their individual progress. See the free Percent of a Number download on our Speed Skills page for more detail. Students also create a personal line graph that shows them visually how they have improved over the course of the five days. Two pictures of actual student line graphs are shown below.
Most students made significant gains in their understanding of Percent of a Number. I was very happy with the results.
Share Your Results with the Percent of a Number Speed Skills Challenge
You can download our free Percent of a Number Speed Skills Challenge module and use it in your class.
To your students’ speed skills!