Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Basic Facts Learning

A hardy annual is the lament from teachers and parents alike, that the kids do not know their tables. As a shopper I am often perplexed at how the shop assistant has to use a device to find the cost of 2 items at $1.99, instead of 2 @ $2 minus 2 cents.
As a consultant I encouraged teachers to help their students see connections between the various facts rather than  learning/memorising 100's of isolated facts: When learning 6 + 3, why are we not encouraging them see 3 + 6 as well as the reverses 9 - 3 and 9 - 6.  We usually call these a Family of Facts.  This should mean that learning 6 + 3 gives 3 other facts at the same time.
I also encouraged looking for patterns in the tables; doubles, fives, Tens, and then ideas such as +9 is like adding 10 and taking away 1.   Similar ideas for Multiplication Family of facts can also be applied.
Once explored chunk the learning down to small pieces! I have never come across a student who can not learn 6 x 9, 9 x 6, 54 ÷ 9, 54 ÷ 6 overnight, provided there is support from home.

Justin Halliday also suggests the use of maths games which require mental use of facts is also a great way to assist memorisation:
All too often I hear teachers lament that their students don't know their basic math facts. In class, students guess, freeze up, count with their fingers, or appeal to their friends or the teacher to help them out.

Why is it so important for children to memorize math facts in order to succeed academically? Quite simply, a lack of fluency in basic math fact recall significantly hinders a child's subsequent progress with problem-solving, algebra, and higher-order math concepts.

This can have a serious impact on a child's overall self-confidence and general academic performance.

The guidelines of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) state that second graders should be able to quickly recall basic addition and subtraction facts, and fourth graders must have quick recall of multiplication and division facts.

Everyone agrees that students need to learn the basic facts, but there's far less agreement among educators about how this can best be accomplished. Many drill and practice programs have been developed to help kids memorize the basic combinations by rote. The theory is that if children hear or practice 9 plus 7 equals 16 repeatedly, they'll eventually just remember it. Doing this with worksheets or flash cards can be boring and student engagement is low.

Almost every elementary teacher struggles to find effective ways to encourage students to master these basic math facts. I have found that math games meet the varied needs of learners, offer opportunities to differentiate instruction, and are effective, motivational, and engaging.

Whether you're a new teacher, a teacher new to teaching math at a different grade level, or a veteran teacher looking for a fresh perspective, I would encourage you to give math games a try. Games engage children and enhance their math learning.

The following game is a great one for helping third, fourth, and fifth graders learn their basic multiplication facts.

Multiplication Fact Feud
What you need: deck of cards
2 players

Teacher decides the particular multiplication fact to practice (i.e. x7, x4, x8, etc.)

Once the constant factor is determined, that card is placed between the two players. Players then divide the remaining cards evenly between themselves.

Each player turns over one card and multiplies that card by the constant in the middle. Players must verbalize their math sentence. The player with the highest product collects both cards.

Example: 5 is the constant
Player #1 turns over a 4 and says "4 times 5 equals 20″.
Player #2 turns over a 7 and says "7 times 5 equals 35″.
Player #2 would collect both cards.

In the event of a tie (i.e. both players have the same product), each player turns over one more card and multiplies that by the constant factor. The player with the highest product wins all four cards.

When the cards are all used up, the player with the most cards wins the game.

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