I've been letting my 5th graders use what I call a "cheat sheet" while teaching fractions. It's a basic multiplication chart. They are not familiar with their multiplication facts and it makes teaching very hard besides the fact that it takes forever when they are counting fingers. Am I hurting them by doing this? I don't allow it on test either, should I?

students need to learn their facts but there are different ways to do it. I think that the cheat sheet helps but only if they are learning the facts as they go along. Students can learn these facts through games, solving word problems and overall practice. These cheat sheets can hinder their learning because it stops students construction of the big ideas. To help I would look at what is the math behind what you are trying to teach and work on developing strategies around those big ideas. When students can construct meaning they will learn but it takes time. Just my two cents.

Once students have the basic skill of how to do it down, then I would take the cheat sheets away. They really won't get very far in middle school unless they know their facts. I know time is a big problem, but I would try to take time each day for mini lessons and practice with their facts. Hope this helps!

I've used a cheat sheet twice in the last several years. My theory is that it's better that they use the sheet and practice getting it right than guess and practice getting it wrong. I did let them use it on the test because in reality I was testing their abilities to do the more "advanced" math, not their math fact skills. I was having students fail at multiplying fractions, not because they didn't know how to multiply fractions but because they said 7x7 was 48.

With one class, it worked really well. They used the cheat sheets for several months and moved on to not needing them. When you look up 7x7 twenty times, it eventually sinks in. And bonus, they're learning it in context with other math. Almost every one of the students suing the cheat sheet would get 100% on a "timed test" but not be able to apply it to problems (kind of like 100% on a spelling test but not in real writing).

I'm using it again this year, and I've yet to see significant improvement but I'm not giving up!

I may be a little different in my thinking, but I say it depends on what you are wanting the students to show you they understand...if you're teaching problem solving then sometimes the process or operation to use in the problem is the focus and the "naked" math is secondary. I think everything, individual or one large classroom charts, no charts, calculators, it all has a place within the classroom.

This site is trackable and sends you an e-mail weekly about your students' progress: w w w . x t r a m a t h . o r g . My students use it 4 times a week. I have 4 computers in my 1st grade classroom and use a guided math approach. I choose 4 students to start, they take a few minutes to do their session, and then find someone who is a) not with an adult (me / I have a student teacher 2 days a week) and b) who has not had their turn yet that day (it shows them by whether or not they have a checkmark by their name or not), and then "tags" them for their turn. The site pretests them, and then makes them practice the facts over and over, but my class loves it Once they pass addition, they move to subtraction and so forth. I HIGHLY recommend it! And best of all...it is FREE!

My 5th graders are struggling with multiplication facts, as well! I'm excited to use xtramath.org with them! I am curious to see how they do with addition and subtraction ...
Thanks for sharing!

I have to try the site for practice (and fun), have to get more practice in and am glad to know that I am not the only one suffering. I swear, everything in the 5th grade curricilum relies on their multiplication facts. What ever happened to writing them ten times each every night!? I know that is how I learned them back in 3rd grade!

I also teach fifth grade and face the same problem. In my opinion, I need to teach the students first and foremost based on the standards because that is what I am held accountable for. In my school, my standard has nothing to do with facts but the process of multiplying 2- and 3-digit numbers. So I allow my students to use a cheat sheet as well because of this. I also try to give them practice with facts, especially for homework, but since it's not a standard I am held accountable for, I don't spend much class time on it.
For homework, I give them a grid with numbers in boxes. It's sort of like a word search but with multiplication facts. They seem to enjoy it and it's more fun and less practice.