When faced with the challenge of not only having my students “learn” how to add and subtract integers but to actually master it for long term retention, I reflected on educational research. Homework was not going to be sufficient…and it hadn’t been effective yet for mastering integers. I knew my students had to have repeated exposure to the skill, not just a handful of times, but more like 20+ experiences. My first challenge, where in the world was I going to find time for 20+ experiences where they were practicing it correctly? I also knew that they had to be held accountable, challenged, and pressured where they were forced to experience that state of disequilibrium. What better way to do that than with Mad Minutes Quizzes?
I designed each of my Mad Minutes Quizzes to have 15 integer problems. I started with a set of Adding Integer Mad Minutes Quizzes. Then, I designed a Subtracting Integer Mad Minutes Quiz. When they were ready, I incorporated mixed Adding and Subtracting Mad Minutes Quizzes.
In order to effectively implement the Mad Minutes Quizzes, you should give no longer than four minutes on the initial quiz for each operation. This allows 16 seconds per problem. This is the maximum amount of time students should require for taking the 15 question quiz.. I used a countdown stopwatch that I could project so that students could see how much time they had left when they finished, and I had them record this on the back of their quiz. That way they feel that they are always racing the clock = accountability, challenge, and pressure.
It is vital that you check the quizzes with your students. Initially, I allowed my students to grade their own quiz. I do not tell them the answers. Instead, I use the popsickle stick method to call on students. When called, the student explained the process to get the answer, then shared the answer. Not only were they racing the clock to process the integer rules to get the answer during the quiz, they knew during grading that they were going to have to explain to the class how to get the answer, which forced them to critically listen to each student’s reasoning before it was their turn.
The ultimate goal is that students’ grades improve and that their quiz time decreases. All of this can be accomplished in less than 10 minutes of instructional time each day until all of your students can add and subtract with integers fluently. I didn’t stop until all of my students had mastered their integer rules. I’ve attached exactly what I use to reach that goal each year.