I’m a sucker for some good alliteration. So when I was thinking about what to post today, the idea of a “Teacher Tuesday” popped into my head and just wouldn’t go away. I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to posting a teaching activity every Tuesday, but the idea sure sounds good at least for today!
As a special education teacher in a middle school, I do a lot of remediation. It’s so heartbreaking for me to see the gaps that some students have in their foundational knowledge. I’m currently working with a group of sixth graders who have somehow made it to middle school without knowing their times tables. Since sixth graders in Virginia cannot use calculators on the statewide assessments, it’s essential that my students commit the facts to long-term memory; however, many of them have a disability that hinders their ability to do this without a lot of repetition. Because of this, I am taking the last 15 minutes of my co-taught math class everyday to practice, practice, P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E!
While repetition is good, it can also be pretty darn boring to just repeat facts over and over again. Flash cards are great but over and over again, every single day? Snooze.
One way I keep my students interested is to let them practice multiplication facts on their desk. As in, I let them write on their desks. Like, ON their desks.
All you need is an expo marker, a clean desk, some dry erase board cleaner spray, and a paper towel. Before introducing this to your students though, I would TEST a tiny area to make sure it will wipe off. It has worked on every “wooden” desk I’ve tried but if you have a white-top desk, you may want to proceed with extreme caution.
Ways I use this activity include:
1- Giving students a fact family and having them write all facts 0-12 on their desks (above I had them write all the “3’s”).
2- Clear 12 desks and number them all 1-12. Each desk is a fact family and the student needs to travel the room and write one (or two) fact for each family on that desk.
3- Call out products and have them write the problem that would go along with that product on their desk. For example, I might call out “21” and the student would write ‘7 x 3 = 21’ on his or her desk. It’s also a good way for them to think about products with many factors (i.e. “24” can be ‘2 x 12,’ ‘3 x 8,’ ‘4 x 6’ so challenge students to come up with all three problems on their own). They should write small enough to have space for several problems and then you can check them over or go over them as a class.
4- Roll dice and write a multiplication problem on the desk with the numbers rolled. (More to come on that in next week’s Teacher Tuesday!)
I occasionally have students walk around and check another student’s desk. They love being able to “grade” and give their peers 100% or stars. (I don’t do this until every student is nearing mastery of the particular fact family).
My students LOVE this activity because it is something different. They never get to write on their desks and, in fact, normally get in trouble for it. Getting to “break the rules” and write on their desks is fun and motivates them to practice. I actually had one student who hates completing worksheets tell me how much fun he was having writing his times tables. Did you catch that? Fun. Writing his times tables. I don’t know about you, but I consider that to be a major success!
Today’s outfit was bright and colorful–it was our first “snow” (more like a dusting) and the weather was pretty dreary so I needed to brighten it up with my wardrobe!
White button down: Express
Khaki pants: Maurices
Bangle set: Ruche (shopruche.com)