Speed Skills Challenge for Middle School Math

Build Mathematical Fluency and Automaticity into Your Students That Will be Foundational to Their Success in Middle School Math

The Speed Skill Challenge Fluency Program is designed to provide quick 3-5 minute bursts of timed skill practice that will increase students mathematical fluency and build a foundation that will help them to perform at a higher level in your math classroom.

Why Speed Skills?

Does it ever frustrate you as a teacher when students understand the new concepts that you have taught them, but then cannot score well on your quizzes or tests because they are continually “tripped up” by a lack of foundational skills?

The creation of the Speed Skills Foundational Fluency Program for Middle School Math was my response to this problem.  I grew frustrated when I witnessed my students missing problems because they lacked the underlying skills necessary to successfully complete the math.

Specifically,  I saw many students who missed problems because they had not yet mastered integer rules.  Many problems were done correctly up until the very end and then ended up with the wrong sign.  Students could not easily subtract a negative number from another negative number or multiply negative numbers together.

My mind went back to the old multiplication speed drills that I used to do in school.  I decided that I could create similar drills, which I named Speed Skills, that would cement in students’ minds some of the foundational mathematical concepts that are required for success in middle school math.

16 Foundational Skill Modules

That’s where I started, with Integer Operation Speed Skills.  I scoured textbooks and soon had identified 16 crucial skills that I believe will be strengthened through the practice of a Speed Skill module.  My goal with this program is to build fluency and automaticity within our students that will be foundational to their success in middle school math.  With that in mind, here are the 16 Speed Skill Challenge modules:

  • Rounding Numbers
  • Divisibility Rules
  • Tipping
  • Greatest Common Factor (GCF) and Least Common Multiple (LCM)
  • Adding Integers
  • Subtracting Integers
  • Multiplying Integers
  • Dividing Integers
  • Perimeter and Area of a Rectangle
  • Exponents
  • Exponent Operations
  • Percent of a Number
  • Powers of Ten
  • Two-Step Equations
  • Scientific Notation
  • Squares and Square Roots

Module Components

Each module contains:

  • Specific Skill Information and Tips
  • 5 daily Speed Skill Challenges
  • Full size answer keys
  • Personal Progress Statistics for each student (mean and median, percent change, rate, and unit rate)
  • Personal Progress Line Graph for each student
  • Student Leader Board
  • Outstanding Speed Skills Certificate (included in Teacher Introduction at beginning of Speed Skills eBook)

Mathematical Fluency

Just as a person who is fluent in a foreign language doesn’t have to search for their words, a student fluent in the foundational mathematical skills will be able to confidently approach mathematics without being tripped up by the basic skills required to succeed in math.  The skills listed above need to become automatic for our students to thrive in middle school mathematics.

Two-Pronged Approach

The Speed Skills Challenge utilizes a two-pronged approach to learning these skills.  Both speed and accuracy are important in cementing mathematical concepts into memory.  The beauty of this program is that even students that can answer all 50 problems correctly on Day 1  can still improve their speed.  Each student has the opportunity each day to improve their speed and accuracy.

Speed Skill Progam Details

This program includes 16 modules with 250 problems (5 days x 50 problems) in each module, for a total of 4,000 practice problems.  If used consistently it can be a great facilitator of skill-based learning in your classroom.  As a result of taking 5 Speed Skill Challenges in each module, you should expect your students to become more fluent (faster and more accurate) in these 16 skills.  This, then, will propel them into further success in the problem or activity based lessons since they will not be slowed down by low skill levels.

Several of the Speed Skill Challenges require continuously switching back and forth between different problem types.  This kind of switching, for instance from GCF to LCM, requires a higher level of understanding to be able to quickly do two or more types of problems.

Teachers Are Talking About Speed Skills

Here’s what other teachers have to say about the Speed Skills Foundational Fluency Program:

“My students are really excited with the progress they see from one session to the next.  They are motivated and challenged.  Each time they calculate their statistics, it reinforces important concepts – it is valuable to routinely practice finding mean, median, percent increase, and unit rate.  Speed Skills are an excellent addition to my arsenal.”

– Laurie B., 7th and 8th grade Math, Northampton, MA

“Love the Speed Drills that I’ve been using with my middle school students.  We started off the year by using the Divisibility Rules and Exponents and sure enough, my students improved 1-2 minutes between drills.  The questions vary enough to keep my students engaged but not overwhelmed.  Later we moved on to the percents.  So thankful for the ease of these drills.  They’re what I hoped to do one day, but never got around to developing.  Thanks, Mr. Tully!”

– Diane W., middle school math teacher, Virginia

“The Speed Skills Challenge Foundational Fluency Program has been a great addition to my curriculum. I have found that students in middle school need fact practice but at different levels than the lower grades. This program has helped me to motivate and challenge my students to improve their mental math skills in grades 6-8. I believe mental math and fact fluency have a great impact on student success and Speed Skills helps my students reach their full potential.”

– Patricia Danielak, Saint Andrew School, Chicago, Illinois

“I use the Speed Skills in both my 6th and 7th grade classes. The boys participate in standardized testing in the spring, and so many would benefit from these speed skills. Many spend so much time simplifying fractions, for example, that if they knew the divisibility rules immediately, they would be able to spend more time on the harder questions.

The majority of them said they liked the speed skills. I give them 2 minutes, and sometimes I complete them with them so they can see how I may make mistakes, too! …..

I do not think the boys will realize how helpful the speed tests are until they take the standardized tests and see how much time they are saving because the basics are automatic to them. I use an online time bomb stopwatch and they love that aspect of it, too.”

– Kristina B., Fairfield, CT

“My name is Jennifer and I am a teacher at a Youth Detention Center in Utah.  Students range in grade from 5th to 12th.  The majority of the youth I work with lack strength in basic math skills due to poor school attendance.  I was ecstatic when I discovered the Speed Skills Challenge Program because it allowed me to quickly teach and reinforce key concepts in a fun, competitive way.  The students LOVE the Speed Skills because they enjoy the friendly competition it provides.  It is very rewarding to see them get excited about their day-to-day progress.  It is an excellent way to start the class.  I chant, “What time is it”, and they chant, “Speed Skills Time!”  I adore DigitalLesson.com and look forward to new material.”

– Jennifer B., teacher, Utah

“Dear Mark, I am writing to tell you how much I have enjoyed both your books.  I have been using the Speed Skills Challenge as a warm up and as an exit card to check for understanding.  I have also made some of the Speed Skills into an “I have…Who Has” game.  I hope you come up with another math book – maybe for the new Core Curriculum for Middle School.”

– Mary Jayne Bortz, math teacher

“I’m looking forward to incorporating this into my 7th grade math intervention class! This is perfect way to boost their skills. Thank you!”

– Diana Richardson, math teacher

Common Core Standards Correlations

The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by a vast majority of the states in the USA.  This Speed Skill Challenge Program covers 2 foundational standards from 5th grade, 6 standards from 6th grade, 8 standards from 7th grade, and 3 standards from 8th grade.

However, I strongly believe that the skills selected for the Speed Skills Program need to be reviewed with students in a higher grade level or introduced to students in a lower grade level in order to promote our students’ mathematical fluency.  With these 16 skills as a strong foundation, our students will be better prepared to take on the challenges of middle school math.

Teacher Support for You

In all of our middle school math teacher resources at DigitalLesson.com, I am a big believer in providing clear directions and teacher tips.  I believe that you should be able to effectively use our math activities in your classroom the very first time.  Mastery of these lessons should not be a process of trial and error.  I have already done that for you and can shorten your learning curve to implementing these activities and programs.  To that end, this Speed Skills program includes the following teacher resources in the eBook:

  1. Common Core Standards Correlations
  2. Background and Benefits of our Speed Skills Challenge Program
  3. How to Use This Program
  4. 5-Day Schedule (3-5 minutes per day on average)
  5. Explanation of Personal Progress Stats and Personal Line Graph
  6. Teacher Tips to Effectively Use the Speed Skills Program
  7. Printable Student Recognition Certificate

Speed Skills Challenge Program Purpose

I developed the Speed Skills Challenge to be a foundational program that would help me to build in my students the foundational math skills that would allow them to be more successful in middle school math.

I also wanted to create a program that would only take a few minutes at the beginning of my math class for 5 consecutive math classes (per module) and yet would have tremendous impact on the skill level of my students.

My Experience with the Speed Skills Challenge in the Classroom

I have used the Speed Skills Challenge in my classroom and have found that students enjoy this change of pace.  Requiring only about 5 minutes at the beginning of your class period, these timed challenges motivate students to try to better their previous scores and to do so in a faster time.

As the students work to better their performance, they solidify their foundational math skills and become better prepared to succeed in your math class.

The Personal Progress Statistics along with the Personal Line Graph present the students with concrete evidence of their progress over the 5-day module and help them to actually see their improvement, which makes them feel accomplished.

Speed Skills Preview Pages

I estimate that I spent about 100 hours of my time over the last 9 months creating the Speed Skills Challenge.  I want to give you the opportunity to use Speed Skills in your classroom.  The following link to the Speed Skills preview download includes a full written teacher directions and tips on how to use this program in your classroom as well as one complete module (Percent of a Number) that you can test in your classroom.

If you like what you see you can order the Speed Skills Challenge Foundational Fluency Program for your middle school math classroom by clicking the “Add to Cart” button below.

Click here to see my classroom results with the Percent of a Number module.

There is no risk to you as Speed Skills is covered by our unconditional 30-day money back guarantee.  Enjoy the Speed Skills program and watch the learning that takes place in your classroom.

Speed Skills Challenge Preview Pages

Speed Skills Challenge:
Foundational Fluency Program for Middle School Math

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