A Two-Part Activity

Each Sprint consists of an A and B fluency sheet. Problem-by-problem, the degree of difficulty correlates between the two Sprints.*  Thus, when students do better on Sprint B than they did on Sprint A, they are immediately aware of their improvement. The immediacy with which students see their automaticity improve often builds their confidence, making them eager to take on additional challenges.

For students to experience improvement, it’s vital that teachers honor stage four of the routine, i.e. allowing quiet practice time after students have recorded their A score. I have observed teachers deliver Sprints hundreds of times and this is by far and away the most neglected stage. When students try their best on Sprint A, practice the remaining problems for a few minutes, and then try their best on Sprint B, they almost always improve their score.

I have observed – and heard about - teachers “manufacturing” improvement by delivering the same Sprint twice. I’m strongly opposed to this practice. This approach will always lead to improved scores, but will never optimize student fluency. Working on identical problems presented in the exact same sequence artificially inflates scores, leaving students with – at best - a false sense of improvement. Although they might not be able to articulate it, many students are aware that they’re being patronized through fortified scores. This understanding denigrates the integrity of the activity, making it less dynamic.

Sprints are a two-part activity and the teacher who chooses not to deliver both is not delivering Sprints.

 

*There are a few exceptions to this rule. In the rare case that there is no analogous problem, I did my best to create equal clusters of problems.