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Topic:  upper middle schoolers that haven't yet mastered multiplication facts 
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Subject:  RE: upper middle schoolers that haven't yet mastered multiplication facts 
Author:  proofpad 
Date:  Jan 4 2005 
I am a first year teacher, but spent part of the last summer tutoring a rising
sophomore (who attends a private high school) in their algebra. A huge part of
my time became devoted to multiplication when I found that he barely even knew
the 2 times tables. What follows is what I did and how well it has worked.
First and foremost, I did not allow any calculators (something that I actually
hold to in some of my classes, depending on what we are doing) when he was with
me. I forced him to use his brain and find ways of memorization. Then, I told
him about Cayley tables and had him create the traditional 9x9 for
multiplication. I then let him use this table for a while, hoping that maybe a
more visual task with moviement would help him with the memorization part
without the calculator's evil magic "poof" here's an answer.
I gave him tests on multiplication all the time. Forced him to do so during all
of the other algebraic topics we discussed, etc.
I still tutor him, and from the start where he could barely multiply the 2's
times tables, he now can multiply numerous numbers in his head, including those
two digits x one digit numbers.
In my classes, I use similar techniques. I briefly cover the skills
(considering the last response brought up the question of fractions: I tell
them about finding common denominators when adding, the multiplying fractions
rules, the dividing fractions rules, the reciprocal, etc) and then force them to
show me, without calculators they know those skills with a couple of
straightforward calculations, and then by integrating fractions or
multiplication or what have you, into the problems that we are currently
learning.
It's a hidden drill and kill, I guess. Now, I have to do the review quickly
because I am teaching classes where these should already be known, but in the
middle school, you could spend a day getting the basics down and then start
using the integration techniques. The results don't come fast, but by forcing
them to use their minds on a more consistent basis and constantly inundating
them with those numbers and facts, they will begin to wrap their hands around
the topics they find most challenging.
At least, that has been my experience, as limited as it is.
Gabriel Edge
 
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