
re: computation skills practice
Posted:
Mar 28, 1999 5:04 PM


I have had several parents complain that their children still do not know their multiplication tables, even at this late date in the year. I know many parents are working at home with their kids using flash cards, which I think is fine. I have addressed this concern about memorizing multiplication facts in two ways. First, we play Trip Around the World, a flash card game, using multiplication and division facts. The students go crazy over that game and beg to play it. Second, the special education teacher in our building, who is in my math class for half of every period, is beginning to do Mad Minutes with the kids. This is only for student use, not for a formal grade, and allows children to document which facts they are weak on and how much they are improving. We run Mad Minutes for 10 minutes a day, 3 or 4 days a week. It's not a lot of time and addresses a nagging weakness in memorization of facts, as well as parent concerns.
I also use a series of what I call "packets" which I assign each Monday, and which are due the following Monday. They are 68 page packets of supplemental math puzzles, activities, or problemsolving approaches that differ from the usual Investigations classwork and address critical thinking, computation, and logic skills. Parents enjoy seeing these additional packets come home because it gives them something interesting to work on with their kids. I never photocopy pages from traditional math textbooks that stress rote computation. The packets are all varied and nontraditional. For example, for about 6 weeks I did a series of packets on how to read a paycheck and compute gross and net pay, how to calculate sales tax at different percentages, how to set up a household budget, how to calculate loan payments, and other financial management issues. The parents loved it and the kids did too, surprisingly. Right now we are doing Wollogoggles, which are funny and decidedly nontraditional.

