School-Based Intervention Idea from


Math Computation: Boost Fluency Through Explicit Time-Drills  (Rhymer, Skinner, Jackson, McNeill, Smith & Jackson, 2002; Skinner, Pappas & Davis, 2005; Woodward, 2006)

Explicit time-drills are a method to boost students’ rate of responding on math-fact worksheets.

The teacher hands out the worksheet. Students are told that they will have 3 minutes to work on problems on the sheet. The teacher starts the stop watch and tells the students to start work. At the end of the first minute in the 3-minute span, the teacher ‘calls time’, stops the stopwatch, and tells the students to underline the last number written and to put their pencils in the air. Then students are told to resume work and the teacher restarts the stopwatch. This process is repeated at the end of minutes 2 and 3. At the conclusion of the 3 minutes, the teacher collects the student worksheets. TIPS: Explicit time-drills work best on ‘simple’ math facts requiring few computation steps. They are less effective on more complex math facts. Also, a less intrusive and more flexible version of this intervention is to use time-prompts while students are working independently on math facts to speed their rate of responding. For example, at the end of every minute of seatwork, the teacher can call the time and have students draw a line under the item that they are working on when that minute expires.


Rhymer, K. N., Skinner, C. H., Jackson, S., McNeill, S., Smith, T., & Jackson, B. (2002). The 1-minute explicit timing intervention: The influence of mathematics problem difficulty. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 29(4), 305-311.

Skinner, C. H., Pappas, D. N., & Davis, K. A. (2005). Enhancing academic engagement: Providing opportunities for responding and influencing students to choose to respond. Psychology in the Schools, 42, 389-403.

Woodward, J. (2006). Developing automaticity in multiplication facts integrating strategy instruction with timed practice drills. Learning Disability Quarterly, 29, 269-289.

Copyright ©2017 Jim Wright