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Friday, March 15, 2013

Multiplication Fact strategies

In grade 3 over the last few weeks, we have been working on developing conceptual understanding of multiplication and division with small numbers.  Now we are at the point where we want to work toward a level of fluency with computing multiplication facts.  We do this by spending a lot of time sharing different strategies. 

We gather all the kids together and make sure they are sitting next to someone who will be a good neighbor.  We put a fact on the board and ask kids to think to themselves and give us a signal when they are ready.  (we like to do thumbs up or thumbs up and bring to lips)  When most (or all) kids are ready, we have them turn and talk to their neighbor.  We have them share their answer and how they know they are right (aka how they solved it)  We listen in to these conversations and then bring the entire group back together.

We call on a student to either share their strategy or their neighbors strategy.  Having students share their neighbors strategy is a great way to increase student engagement and have them experiences another way of thinking.  We then ask if anyone else did it that way.  Then we look for a student to share a different strategy.  We then look at how the strategies are the same or different.  By listening in on the conversations when they were sharing with a neighbor, we have a good idea who we will be calling on beforehand.  Sometimes we will share a third or a fourth strategy before moving on.

When we go onto another fact, we repeat the process.  After 2-3 facts, we ask kids to try a different strategy (or their neighbors strategy) 

Today we worked on the x 8 facts.  Here are some of the kids strategies

I started with 8x8

Some kids knew the rhyme "8x8 fell on the floor, when I picked it up it was 64"

Many other kids did the Double, Double, Double strategy our math program teaches

Several kids said they knew it was two groups of 8 x 4 so they added 32 twice

The next fact I put up was 8x7

Right away, many kids were ready.  The majority of kids used the fact that we had just done 8 groups of 8 and 7 groups of 8 would just be 8 less.

Some kids did the double, double, double strategy 

Another young man said he knew 5 groups of 8 was 40 and he needed 2 more groups of 8 which was 16 and 40+16=56

I was pleasantly surprised by all the different strategies   Now I have to move these kids towards computational fluency.  I think talking about strategies over and over is a great way to expand a students' thinking and help them develop conceptual understanding and fluency simultaneously.  How do you make sure your students learn multiplication facts?

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