Delay Method of Errorless Math Practice

  1. Prepare a list of the calculations from the flash cards on a sheet of paper. These can be on a template, with multiplication facts at the appropriate level pulled and copied for the student. On these forms, include three columns next to each multiplication question, labeled “correct repeat,” “correct wait,” and “correct response.”
  2. Start with review and confi dence building. For example, show the question 3 × 4 = __ on the card and without any delay say the answer. Th e student repeats the question and answer, just as you said it, while looking at the card (visual and auditory memory stimulation). He or she then turns the card over to confi m that the answer is correct (positive reinforcement/dopamine pleasure).
  3. Place a check in the “correct repeat” column for the student’s proper repeating of the calculation.
  4. If the student doesn’t repeat the math fact with you correctly, read it again and have him or her repeat it correctly with you. Don’t write anything on the list until he or she does the correct repeat, and then check the appropriate column. Continue with the next card. Limit the number of cards to an achievable-challenge number, determined by your observation of the student’s attention span, and always include several cards the student has already “mastered” in previous sessions.
  5. Delay step: After enough practice, when the student seems familiar with the math facts on two or three cards, simultaneously show the card and read the question together but wait about three seconds to see if the student jumps in with the answer before you say it. If he or she is successful, turn over the card to confirm his or her response. If the answer is correct, make a check in the “correct response” column of your list.
  6. If the student doesn’t jump in during the brief delay, proceed as before and say the answer. He or she then repeats the original question and answer before turning over the card to confi rm accuracy. (Mark the column as in Step 3.)
  7. If the student waits through the delay for you to say the answer and then repeats it correctly along with you, check this as a positive response in the “correct wait” column. Check this column because the student knew to wait and then said the correct answer with you. Th e practice continues to be errorless and nonthreatening because it acknowledges both correct waits and correct responses.
  • Th e process is almost completely errorless because if the student says the correct answer, that is a correct response, and if he or she waits for you to say the answer and then repeats it, that is also a correct response.
  • If the student makes an incorrect response by giving an incorrect answer, there is no box to check for “incorrect response.” Leaving the blank space for that problem on the list gives you a record that the problem was missed without visible negative feedback to the student.There is, however, immediate corrective feedback because you ask the student to try again. On the second try, you say the problem and the answer without any delay, so the student won’t jump in with an incorrect answer, and he or she will have the opportunity to repeat the correct answer. Having your notes open and visible to students throughout this process is part of the positive experience. To reinforce motivation and positive math attitudes, you can also show students a record of their increasing mastery for “correct wait” and “correct response” as practice sessions continue.
Provide verbal or gesture cues to increase the probability of a correct response. For example, if a student is multiplying numbers with decimals and forgets to count the number of digits following the decimal points in each multiplier, say the word decimal if he or she appears to be fi nished and has not placed the decimal in the product. In that way, the student will not actually make the error in the fi nal answer he or she writes down. Even though a cue was needed from you, the student ends up writing a correct answer and benefits from both the practice and the pleasure response from the achievement.


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 Learning to Love Math
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Willis, Judy (2010), Learning to Love Math, ASCD, Alexandria, VA, Retrieved on 2016-09-02
Folksonomies: education games math