Sunday, June 27, 2010

Multiplication Groups

In my last student teaching placement, I had 5th graders, then my first year teaching I taught a 4th/5th split grade. I was astounded how many of those kiddos either didn't know their multiplication tables at all (they learn them in 3rd grade) or only knew about half by memory.

It is one of the ONLY skills I push my students to have memorized since knowing how to multiply makes division so much easier. The beauty of the Everyday Math program for me is that (at least at 4th and 5th grade), they really do show the relationship between these two types of math. Over the last two years, my students have done much better once they realized that if they know how to multiply, they can divide anything, they just have to use the turn-around facts like they learned when they learned to add and subtract, except they are using multiplication and division. It's probably one of the best light bulb moments I see in teaching older students.

During my first year, one of my colleagues shared with me a multiplication/division group idea. I do not know if she made it up or developed it with someone else or what. Basically, she put together a bunch of types of multiplication (such as multiplying a 3-digit number by a 1-digit number, multiplying 2-digit by 2-digit, etc) and made a pretest to see where her students were in being able to APPLY multiplication along with knowing their multiplication tables.
Since I didn't start teaching there until after Thanksgiving, was the 3rd teacher in that classroom since August and had a split grade, she took pity on me and shared this program with me. I have never used the division part because I've never needed to do so. Once my students grasped the multiplication part, they were hitting home-runs with division because they grasped the concept that they really do go hand-in-hand.

As such, during spring break that year, I created a set of worksheets to go along with the multiplication groups. The groups simply identify where each child is working with multiplication (the children rarely work together on these although sometimes I did allow it). A few days a week there would be time for children to bring me their sheets to be checked and if they passed it, they could get another sheet and/or the test out sheet for the group level they were in to try to move up to the next level.

Since I had all of these documents already on my computer at home, I decided to alter them (very slightly) and create .pdfs with them to share with anyone reading who is so inclined. You'll find them on the Teacher Resource page. Please let me know if you decide to use them -- I would love to hear how someone else puts them to use in their classroom.
Keeping track of the worksheets and such can be a bit time consuming but once you find a way that works for you, it is SO easy. I created a spreadsheet with the kids names along the side and the multiplication numbers -- ie. 1.1, 1.2, etc -- along the top and then just marked half an X in one color when I gave them that sheet and used another color to finish the X to show me they'd passed it so I didn't accidentally give kiddos the same sheet twice. Sometimes I added the date too for kiddos who were taking a LONG time on the sheets so I could check in with them and see if they were struggling or just not doing any of the work.

There is another math screener that I have used in the past that I hope to share in the upcoming weeks. I'm currently trying to figure out where it came from so I don't violate anyone's copyright by posting it here. Stay tuned for updates on that.


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