Teacher Tuesday: Dice Edition

Another Teacher Tuesday is here!

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I do a lot of remediation with my students, particularly in math. While I am a special education teacher, I do a lot with the whole class because there are many students without disabilities who still struggle with retaining math facts.

I’ve come up with several games and activities to play to practice the facts in new ways so they get exposure to the facts and practice them while staying engaged the whole time.  All the activities I’m sharing today are done with dice. I have found that while many multiplication games feel “baby-ish” to my middle schoolers, they love to roll the dice for these games. It allows them to take some ownership in their math facts since they’re the ones “creating” the facts  and it’s a nice break from yet another worksheet.

Easy ways to practice multiplication with dice

1. Simple roll and multiply. First up is extremely simple. The students get two die (di? dice? I’m never sure with this one.) Because I had green and white available, students got one of each but you can use the same color. They roll both and multiply the two numbers together. They then have to write the multiplication problem down and roll again to create a new problem. I like this too because it is self-paced. If a student has to think for five minutes to remember what 3 x 6 is, no problem! The rest of the class isn’t held up.

Variation #1 of simple roll and multiply. Students get three dice. Here I gave them two green and one white. They roll the white to get the first number in the multiplication problem. Then they roll BOTH green dice together and find the sum of the numbers rolled. This gives them the second number in the multiplication problem. This involves a little more higher-level thinking but my students caught on quick!

Dice game on desk (2)-001

And yes, I let the students write on their desk! They use an Expo dry erase marker and it wipes right off with a paper towel and a small amount of dry erase board cleaner. No damage to the desks and the students LOVE it!

Variation #2 of simple roll and multiply. Same as above but students get four dice. Here I gave them two green and two white. They roll both white together and find the sum to get the first number in the multiplication problem. Then they roll both green dice together and find the sum of the numbers rolled to get the second number in the problem. I like this because it asks them to do two operations, which is a skill they will need to use a lot as they move forward in math! I would not do this variation until they are solid with the simple roll and multiply.

Dice game on desk (3)-001

Multiplication Chart Fill-In. Here I gave the students blank multiplication charts and dice. I gave them four but you could make it work with two.

Multiplication practice with dice (1)-001

The goal of this activity was to fill in as much of the chart as they could in a certain amount of time. They couldn’t just fill it in though, they had to roll the multiples!

I gave them one minute with rolling just TWO die. The rules were the same as the “simple roll and multiply” above. I did let them fill in both squares for each problem (2 x 3 = 6 and 3 x 2 = 6) because it was a good opportunity to expose them to the commutative property of multiplication.

Multiplication with dice (2)-001

After one minute was up, I had them roll three die. Same as the variation of the simple roll and multiply above: the single di was the first number and the sum of the next two di was the second number in the multiplication problem. My students were so used to all the variations of the simple roll and multiply that they could easily transition to this without getting confused. Then I gave them one minute with rolling all four dice (sum of first two = first number, sum of second two = second number).

Multiplication with dice (3)-001 Multiplication with dice (4)-001

Variations: 

1. Continue 3 minute cycles for however much time you have (last 15 minutes of class? Do five one-minute cycles of each. Just a few minutes? Do one or two cycles of each)

2. With one or two minutes left at the end of this activity, tell the students to put down the die and now fill in as many as they can on their own.

3. Turn it into a competition

a. First student to get thirty boxes filled in gets a prize.

b. First student to fill the whole chart gets a prize.

c. All students get a prize as they get thirty/whole chart/etc.

4. If your students are just beginners, give them only a 6 x 6 multiplication chart and have them fill in using the simple roll and multiply.

Whole Class Activity: Multiplication Dice “Bingo.” I’ll admit, this isn’t truly Bingo; however, my students still had fun with it. Each student gets a Bingo chart with products in it. I got simple charts here but you could make your own to reflect the specific fact families you want to work on.

Students would come up one at a time to roll two giant foam di in the front of the room (this was fun for them because I allowed them to gently bounce it off the wall if they wanted.) The student would roll the di, following the simple roll and multiply rule, and tell us the product. For example, if he rolled a 2 and a 5, he would say “2 x 5 = 10.”

I would have 2-3 students come up and repeat the same process, then I would switch and have the next 2-3 students do the first variation of the simple roll and multiply (first dice rolled = first number, second roll uses two di and the sum = the second number). For example, the student may now roll a 3 on the first roll and a 4 and a 5 (4 + 5 = 9) on the second roll so she would call out “3 x 9 = 27.”

The next 2-3 students would do the second variation of the roll and multiply (first roll uses two di, sum = first number; second roll uses two di, sum = second number). This student may roll the two di and get a 1 and 4 (1 + 4 = 5) on the first roll and a 3 and 5 (3 + 5 = 8) on the second roll so he would call out “5 x 8 = 40.”

This activity sounds rather complex, but even my lowest students understood the concept once I demonstrated each type of roll (keep in mind they are sixth graders). They all enjoyed it! The standard rules of Bingo apply: once you get five across or down, call out “Bingo” and tell us all the multiplication facts you got.

You may be thinking “why are we even bothering with dice?” You make a valid point. These activities can all be done without dice. However, I have found that the students stay engaged and practice their facts more if they are actively involved. They really seem to enjoy rolling the dice and it is a new, fun way to practice the same facts over and over.

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Today I had a doctor’s appointment, so no school outfit to share. I have to admit it was nice to spend an entire day in sweats! Whoo hoo!

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Here’s one for the alliteration lovers

*Nerd alert*

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.

Multiplication Practice-Write facts on desk with expo marker!-001All 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!

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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!

11-12 Outfit 3

Sweater: Target

White button down: Express

Khaki pants: Maurices

Shoes: Kohls

Necklace: Bluetique

Bangle set: Ruche (shopruche.com)