Where do you stand on the need for Sp Ed high school students mastering their basic facts (add, sub, multi) up to 10? Versus taking the stand they are never going to get this so lets move on. (not including severe and profound students)

It would be nice if it happens and is very handy as a life skill and great exercise for the brain. However, we can't let it bring us to a standstill and keep us from learning higher level computations.

I was a teacher in middle school and elementary and a para in high school. We tried to emphasize both. We also used math charts for basic computations and let them use the calculator for individual steps before letting them use the calculator for full problems.

So they do not master basic facts and we move on. They can't do multiple digit multiplication since they don't know their facts. They can't do simple division since they don't know their facts. Not knowing their facts unables them to grasp and understand how number relate. Measurement involves fractions, fractions involve multiplication and division, but since they don't know their facts they struggle to get past the facts calculations to understand fractions. Most any math past the basic facts is a multi step process.

Move on because they are never going to master their facts. But yet one thinks they will be able to master the next thing which is even more difficult.

They have no problem remembering their passwords and email addresses. They remember phone numbers and things they need to do.

I struggle with this facts thing. But every time I move on I see how their not knowing their facts makes the next math so difficult, mostly impossible and that we always fall back to our need to know your facts and understand how number relate.

I do not teach math, but I work with two great RSP math teachers. Both are of the mindset that if students don't know their math facts by now, they aren't going to know them. We add into their IEPs that they can use calculators. The idea is that we want them to learn grade level concepts like algebra and geometry without being bogged down with math facts.

I know that it can be very convenient to know them. I remember that the argument used to be something like, "You need to know your math facts because you won't have a calculator on you all the time when you grow up." Well, now we do since everyone has a phone!

Eeza, I was going to say the same thing about everyone having a calculator on their phone. My teachers said that all of the time growing up, and it's totally not a valid argument anymore! I have a hard time with the facts thing even in elementary school. Currently, I do try to teach my students to memorize their facts, but I do wonder if I'm doing them a disservice by spending so much time on facts/simple math when they can just use a calculator in secondary anyway. I know this was a complaint from HS sped teachers in my previous district- kids spent all of elementary school just learning the four operations and didn't know how to do anything else, and the four operations were not very useful to them in HS anyway since they could use calculators.

I don't teach high school but by 4th grade kids have to do multi digit computations.

I use alternative methods:

1. Add, sub - use your fingers or draw tally marks, circles and then count them. Draw lines between the place values if you need to - even my high moderate IDs have had success doing multi-digit computations if they just have to address one place value at a time. Use or draw your own number line and use it - just need to know how to use it and which way to go. Use graphic organizers with lines and boxes to help with regrouping.

2. Multiply - alternative methods: such as skip counting 2's, 5's, 10s'; once you know your 2's, just tap on your fingers twice for 4's. This is also good:

For multi-digit multiplication, use lattice method or box multiplication. Or use traditional method with your alternative methods.

For division, use the forgiving method and 'easy' numbers (2's, 5's, 10's) - google it or I can post a link.

All these methods have helped my kids who haven't mastered math facts. I use them for upper elementary but it could to applied to higher grades I think.

These ways do take longer but EC kids get extra time as accommodations.

And do need to know how to use a calculator too - definitely. After all, part of the tests are calculator active and as adults in the workplace people use spreadsheets/software for calculations.

Some kids just don't have the capacity to memorize facts in the time given. I also am old enough to remember when most of 3rd grade math was dedicated to memorizing the times tables and everyone learned them. But I promise not to get started on that as I could go on for hours.

Yes memorization makes it easier but there are still ways to do higher math if you do not memorize the facts. Just my opinion.

Last edited by rosedemai; 05-30-2015 at 08:53 AM..
Reason: More info

And I was saying the very same thing the other day.

I would like to assign 3 - 5 questions at grade level at the end of worksheets but have most of the questions be on those fundamentals that would make grade level math so much easier.

This is for those high school juniors in Algebra2 who don't understand negative and positive numbers, etcetera.

As for calculators, when I was in school nobody gave me one. We are really doing children a disservice by handing these to them too soon...

It isn't just about memorization, it is about knowing the fundamentals (the underlying concepts of a particular unit in upper math).

If you can't remember 9 x 8 but can figure it out then that is great! But so many kids cannot troubleshoot using their own brain and fingers to compute anything.

And if you can't do that then you will have problems. Such students are calculator dependent but cannot properly use it or get the most out of it.

and jmills.....I am open to other ideas. But where do you find the time to teach the basic facts when you also need to keep going and teach them new concepts in math? I just can't find the time to have them memorize the times tables (trying again) or tens facts or facts through 20 when i need to go on and cover all the other things they need to learn in math and they are in 4th or 5th grade and below grade level in everything.
My kids have mild or moderate intellectual disabilities and almost all of also have ADHD. It seems difficult for them to memorize their facts.

I don't have my kids use calculators at this grade range except to know how to use them for the end of grade testing.

But I would love to be able to have their memorize their facts so please share your techniques. I only have a few years teaching experience so I would like to know how to do this.

I'm not sure if you are sincere or not about asking for techniques. Practice is the only way. Very much as stated already, it is not really the facts to be memorized but being able to quickly find the answer to simple problems. I really don't have facts memorized myself but I can find 6x9 if I multiply 6 times 10 and subtract 6. The real problem is getting the kids to focus on their education and to want to learn. For most learning is not a priority of their school day, it is about social drama. Behaviors, non interest and acting out are what takes place primarily in a classroom.

I too want to move forward in math but as I do and stated prior I always have to come back to they haven't grasped the concept of numbers to be able to move forward. I guess we move on since we feel we must and similar to mastering their facts we just hope they get something out of it. I have the same kids for 4 years in a row and regardless of what direction we go each year is like the first year.

Their home life for the most part does not promote learning (they are more involved with life's essential needs) and some just really never will learn it.

Someone needs to realize that students with disabilities need to put in way more effort than general ed students and they have to want to do it. There is no delayed satisfaction ability.

If there was a magic wand we would all be out of a job.

I record their daily scores in a spreadsheet to monitor progress. I only have them do 3 numbers each day each number 3 times (so I get 3 scores for each of the 3 numbers daily. Once a number is mastered I add the next number and they don't do the one they mastered.

This is kind of embarrassing, but I didn't learn my multiplication facts in school. I used repeated addition or other tricks to get by. I was not special ed, but extremely stubborn. I didn't see the benefit in learning them, so I didn't. I didn't learn them until I started teaching third grade at age 38!

I agree with the posters that if they have strategies to use memorization is not necessary. Of course, it is a lot easier and quicker if they memorize. I teach 3rd grade inclusion and using chants and songs I can get kids who cannot add to memorize their multiplication facts!

Further discussion. As I said I do not know all my facts either, but I can use other tricks like you mentioned to get by.
Question - what is easier for kids to learn, their facts or the tricks? We can do the tricks because we learned and understand how numbers work.

Sure learning facts is menial but will they learn the tricks if they can't learn their facts? What to teach?

You and I know that 9+6 is the same as 10+5 OR 15-9 is 5+1. Normal minds work with many possibilities/ticks, but struggling kids can't do either.

Have to learn to walk before we can run. How many times did it take to learn how to tie shoes? Sure there's velco now but normality allows for options and our students don't have that ability. (yes ok some do but were talking about the majority of low functioning students)

I had one kid this year who could recite his multiplication facts through 4 but when given a timed (1 min) test individually for each number of the same facts randomly he would get about 20% right.

Have to be able to apply facts, math, tricks etc... to move forward.

Thanks jmills will look at the info you provided. I actually did memorize my multiplication facts but I am older and we had a long time to practice in those days. A few facts I have to stop and think for a minute - could be old age.

It depends on the trick, whether or not it is easier than just memorizing the fact. Sometimes the trick depends on number sense, like I only knew what 6 x 8 was if I thought about the product of 5 x 8 and added another 8. But if the trick doesn't involve number sense, like using your hands for the 9s trick, it might be easier to use it.