I'll just lay it out here: I'm sick and tired of the pink elephant that is poor multiplication fact mastery (or none at all). Whatever the reason is, I can't stand one more year of watching it cripple students as they slog through complex multiplication, division, fractions, percentages, and geometric formulas.

I'm done.

So... how do you deal with this when students show up not knowing MOST of their times tables? I don't mean missing a few of the 9's or 12's, but students who are lost from the 3's up.

I've tried different inventories at the beginning of the year to figure out who doesn't know what, but none of them are very efficient.

Do you have an organized, streamlined way to find out what they know and don't know, and a method of attack from there?

In my state multiplication is taught conceptually in second, again in third, and by the END of third they must know all of their facts through 12.

I use Mad Minutes. I cut each page in 1/2 and put up a big timer on the screen. They finish the 1/2 page and record their time. As the year progresses we move from multiplication to division and finally to simplifying fractions. I feel it makes a big difference, but it certainly doesn't solve the problem. This year my coworkers and I also had an after school math club by invitation for the kids who didn't know their facts... I don't think that worked as well as we wanted it to... but we didn't know what else to do. One teacher in our building started a math facts calendar where kids recorded the minutes that they worked on their facts each night and parents signed it. Many of the kids actually practiced, but some just had their parents sign the paper.

I'm sorry I don't have a fail-proof idea, but these are some of the things we've tried to combat this maddening problem! : )

A dilemma I've had is deciphering wherein the difficulty lies-- is it an inability to memorize them, a lack of skill in the art of studying/memorizing, or a lack of interest or motivation.

I have had several students over the years that despite our combined efforts, they couldn't retain the facts.

By far and large, I've found most students perfectly capable of mastering them, but failed to for a variety of reasons. I've actually sat knee-to-knee with them, showing them how to study, how to memorize, how to practice. I've even asked for as little as four facts per week-- 3x2, 3x3, 3x4, 3x6... and been so frustrated when I find their practice pages and flashcards untouched in their backpacks. Yet when I really dug in and sat with them and practiced those facts, they remembered them. It is such a battle for me since I'm obligated to teach grade level material, and there is so much of it.

I share your dilemma--this year I really studied the kids as they worked on their facts wondering if it is just developmentally inappropriate for us to think that they should know them cold before fifth grade....but, as you have seen, when I work with kiddos one-on-one they are always able to learn them. I've notice that even the kids with various learning disabilities learn them faster and more thoroughly than some of the kids in class. It is very frustrating to attempt the fifth grade curriculum without the students having the facts on board.

I am thinking that having them practice at home is a fizzle. THe students that know them prettty well are always the ones that practice. I am planning to incorporate fact mastery into my already full schedule next year. We will do some sort of fact practice from the 2's (yes, you heard it here first) on up every day and graph our progress on personal graphs that we will keep in the math section of our binders. We will rhyme, we will game, we will read, and we will write facts until eyeballs roll.

Actually, I think that will be my new email name "Until Eyeballs Roll"....

i think that not knowing basic facts is an epidemic!!!
we have the sammee problem.
I went to this workshop, and the presenter said that if students can memorize 15 basic facts, then they will know all of them. The kids don't have trouble with 1's and 2's, doubles, 5's, and 10's..so if they know all of those facts, the "fearsome 15" and the flips of the "fearsome 15" they should know just about all of them. He suggested doing a fact of the day. Write it on the board each morning. The kids have to write it on EVERY paper they turn in, take notes on, etc...before they can leave the room to go ANYWHERE and anytime they line up. 2 other teachers and I created an incentive plan where the kids earned tickets for their multiplication quiz each Friday, and if any one of the teachers saw the kids in the hallway, they could ask them the "fact of the day" and if the kid knew it, they got a ticket. The tickets were put in a bucket for a drawing for a $15 gift certificate at the end of 3 weeks. After the kids did those 15 facts, we did the flips of each. A 20 question quiz was given each Friday and taken for a grade. If the student got an A, they received 3 tickets, 2 for a B, and 1 for a C. If the class average was a 90% or above each week, the class earned a popcicle party at the end of the 3 weeks. We are going to try it again next year, but from the beginning of the year to see if makes a difference. This was more of a trial run. I don't have the list of the fearsome 15 with me, but here are some that I remember. I'll post the correct list later!
8 x 6
3 x 4
3 x 9
4 x 9
9 x 7
8 x 7
4 x 7
4 x 6
6 x 3
9 x 8

An idea is that students practise their facts through math games, which are a fun way to learn facts at home or school. I have them play multiplication war as one idea. I done cover the area, which is rolling the dice and covering the area that is shown. Also path ways which is a fun game. Also Fosnot has a book on string lessons for basic facts, which are mini-lessons to do at the beginning of your math day that focuses on teaching students how to use those basic facts, 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10's effectively. Facts are things that students just need to learn and if they don't put the effort they won't. What you shoudl focus on is how to teach effective strategies for those students that don't know them. i.e: dutch algorithms or using ten's, breaking numbers down to friendlier numbers. Many of my students who struggle with facts can still do those complex strategies by implementing those strategies.

Look into Kim Sutton's book, Drills that Thrill. It comes with a CD that calls out numbers randomly. The students get a worksheet that has ____ x 8 = ; the kids write the number the CD calls out in the blank then quickly write the answer before the next number is called out. My kids love it! They do one of these drills everyday (there are several versions of the same thing) as part of their warmups. The book comes with a CD that calls out numbers in 5 and 8 second intervals. I would also suggest the rapid fire CD that calls out numbers in 2 and 3 second intervals.

Polkadot86: I love the idea of a math fact of the day! It would be really cool if it was implemented school-wide-- announced on the morning announcements, any staff including specials teachers, cafeteria staff, custodians, etc could ask the student's they see in the hallway. What a way to reinforce!

First: memorizing only works on some. To others, that strategy just adds to the confusion. The reason: because their mind wants to understand why it is so...not just that it IS so.

For the bulk of the group, memorizing will continue to work. For your others, first find out which group is the trouble group. It will usually be 4's and 8's, 6, and 7's. I continue to show kids that they actually DO know most of them so I build on success (instead of failure). Then I attack one group through patterns. For example: the 4's and 8's follow an identical pattern using a grid box ..2 rows with 5 boxes. The ones place in each box does the same thing, while the tens place also produces a predictable pattern. The top row reads: 08, 16, 24, 32, 40.....the 2nd row will keep the same one's place digit (as upper box) and the tens place will increase (from above) by 4 (value--add 40).

Once they reproduce the boxed pattern several times because they can see what is actually happening, the muddy water begins to clear up! Teach them a way to accomplish the same goal in a different way. As they continue, they begin to fill in missing gaps...and they understand why!

that your suggestion of helping the kids to understand how the numbers work....works. I think that I am just disappointed that I am helping them to do this in fifth grade....

I love all these awesome ideas. Also you shouldn't be discouraged about not learning facts in fifth grade, I mean how many adults still don't know their facts. Its amazing.

I am a guardian to my 10 year old granddaughter. We will work on multipication facts and she will know them. Leave and do something else for 5 minutes, come back, and it's all gone. She can't remember even one. However, she can remember every word to every song on the radio. I know a lot of this is listening and practice. She does not have the same desire to remember her multiplication facts. I cannot convience her that it is important to her future. To her, future is tomorrow and tomorrow she does not have math.

Constant punishment is not the answer. Going over what I know every night is not the answer. Maybe a rap song with multiplication is the answer, and it hurts me to say it.

Homespoon2

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