Multiplication facts: What happens when students don’t or can’t memorize them?

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

If you teach 3rd and above, I am positive you have students who have not memorized their multiplication facts. So what do they do to try to get the answer? From my experience, most students seem to know that repeated addition, drawing equal groups or arrays, and skip counting are strategies to try. I do believe those are very helpful for students to conceptualize what multiplication is all about. But here is what is frustrating:

Let’s say the problem is 6 x 7:

  • Do they write 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 and then add each part at a time? Or a little better, do they add 7 + 7 three times?
  • Do they draw a picture such as 6 circles with 7 items inside each one? The main difficulty with this is most students using this method count each object one at a time, making this a counting practice, not multiplication practice.
  • Do they draw an array? If so, do they correctly line up the rows and columns? Do they count each item in the array one at a time? Or do they group some together (which is a little better because they are at least thinking of equal groups)?
  • Do they skip count by fingers or write the sequence on paper? And what happens then? They may start off okay with 7, 14, 21 and then repeatedly count 7 fingers to get to the next number (21 + 7 = 28, then 28 + 7 = 35,  then 35 + 7 = 42, etc.).

With all of these strategies, students can get the correct answer, but they are often not really even using multiplication. Their method is often counting the objects in each group one at a time.  And when skip counting, if just one number is missed in the sequence then the total is obviously off. In addition, students often spend so much time with each of these that they get frustrated and give up.

In previous posts, I mentioned different ways for students to skip count while focusing on the patterns numbers make (Click HERE) and ways to use arrays to break it down into smaller equal groups (Click HERE).  So those methods are a little more productive toward using multiplication than the above. Today, though, I will steer you toward a unique strategy which does the following:

  • Allows students to use readily known facts (especially the 5s and 2s)
  • Adds a pictorial component which builds on subitizing, number sense, and decomposing of numbers
  • Applies the distributive property so students are using multiplication and addition together

The strategy modeled here is based on facts students already know. This is likely to be different among your students. Some will say they are great with their 4s or 3s. But most students I work with are proficient with their 5s and 2s (and can skip count quickly and accurately if they haven’t memorized these). So a lot of the problems shown will focus on use of 5s and/or 2s.

Again, let’s look at 6 x 7.  The student doesn’t know their 6’s and doesn’t know their 7’s. So we will decompose 6 or 7 to include a group of 5’s, which is known (I’ll show both ways).

  1. Decompose 6:  Six is made up of a group of 5 and a group of 1.  This is a pictorial method to build on subitizing using a dot pattern to show 5 and 1 (similar to a domino piece).
  2. See how the connection to the familiar ten frame can illustrate 7 x 6 (7 groups of 6) in this manner.
  3. Condense this concept to this representation which shows 7 x 5 plus 7 x 1 (35 + 7 = 42)

To see 7 decomposed instead of 6: Seven is made up of a group of 5 and a group of 2.

  1. See what this looks like on a ten frame to illustrate 6 x 7 (6 groups of 7):
  2. Condense to the “domino piece.” This shows 6 x 5 plus 6 x 2 (30 + 12 = 42):

Click on this link Multiplication Strategy pictorial CE for a FREE copy of the pictures above and below which are used in this post (for easy reference later). Here are a few more examples. Some use 5s and 2s, while others will show other combinations using 3s or 4s. The use of dots instead of numbers inside the “domino” is suggested to keep it a little more pictorial and less abstract. Plus, it builds on knowledge of subitizing (which is recognizing quantity without physically counting). Numbers alone can certainly be used, but the quantity of numbers might frustrate some students.

 

Practice activity:

  • Use a set of dominoes and digit cards 1-9. Turn over 1 domino and 1 digit card. Write the problem and then the decomposed version. See photo for example. Click on this link Digit cards 0-9 for a FREE copy of the digit cards.I’d love to hear if you are able to try this with your students. Let me know if it helps. I have worked with a couple of classes so far with this and they have loved it.  It opened a lot of eyes!!

Have a great week!

C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Ten Frames Part 4: Multiplication

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Yes, you can even use ten frames to teach multiplication concepts! Here are my mini ten-frames with dot cards from 1 – 10:  Click HERE to get a free copy. These are helpful to use, especially if you don’t have enough tens/ones blocks . . .  or you prefer manipulatives that are slightly easier to manage. These provide a strong connection to place value, and the commutiative and distributive properties.

I recommend two sets of the cards 1-9 per student. Each set has multiple copies of the same number. They can be laminated, cut, and placed in a baggie for ease in handing out and storage.

Multiplication Examples:

  1. Single digits (basic facts): 
    • For the problem 3 x 6, the ten frame is really helpful for the student to see 3 x 6 is almost like 3 x 5 with one more group of 3 added on (by being familiar with the fact that the top row on a ten frame is 5).
    • Because of the commutative property, I know these two facts will have the same answer. But which of these below do you think might be “easier” to solve? Students don’t often know they have a choice in how they can use the numbers to their advantage!
  2. Double digit x 1 digit:
    • Use of these also provides a strong connection of place value and multiplication. Notice how students can see the breakdown on the 4 x 12 problem (4 groups of 12 = 4 x 10 plus 4 x 2). Great introduction to the distributive property of multiplication!
    • Here is where application of the commutative property also comes in handy. Which of the methods below would you rather use to solve: count by 4’s or count by 12’s? Again, show students how to use their strengths to decide which way to think about solving the problem.
    • Even though the number of total pieces might seem to be a little overwhelming, it definitely is worth the effort for a few lessons so students get a visual picture of the magnitude of the products.
  3. Here are other ways to model multiplication problems with manipulatives like base ten rods or base ten disks.

Continue reading

Multiplication Concepts Part 5: Multiple digit strategies

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

In this post, I will share some strategies for using concrete manipulatives and pictorial methods to solve multiple digit multiplication problems. By using these methods, students gain a better sense of place value as they work to decompose the problem into smaller units.  Decomposing also allows a student to better perform mental calculations. Some helpful manipulatives:  base ten materials (hundreds, tens, ones); place value disks; cups and pinto beans

What is the purpose of knowing multiple strategies? Some would argue that too many strategies are confusing for students. Some believe the only strategy needed is the standard algorithm. I believe teaching different strategies provides students with choices and improves analytical thinking. With only 1 strategy, if the “steps” are missed, the student has no other recourse. Student choice is a powerful motivator as well because they get a say-so in how they approach their own work.

I keep thinking about my past teaching when I only taught the standard algorithm (before I knew better). I recall saying: “Show all your work – because I said so.” This means I was not considering the students who were able to do some of the mental calculations in their head. I know I went through the steps in a robotic, don’t-question-me way:  “Multiply the ones, carry to the ten’s place, multiply again and add the digit you carried. When multiplying the 2nd digit, be sure to watch the placement in the second row and scoot it over to the left one place.” None of this conversation (if you could even call it that) mentioned the place value relationship, what the carried digit represented, or why the second row of the answer should be scooted over one place.

Here are some examples relating manipulative and pictorial methods with paper-pencil methods. I’ll use the problem 32 x 4. These methods help students use (30 + 2) x 4 to solve.

  1. Base ten: Show 3 tens rods and 2 ones four times.
  2. Place value disks: Show three 10’s disks and two 1’s disks four times.
  3. Cups and beans: Each cup contains 10 beans. Ones are shown by individual beans. Show 3 cups and 2 beans four times.
  4. Pictorial drawings and decomposing models:
  5. Partial products: This is a great way to help student realize that the 3 represents 30.
  6. Area (box) model: Another ways to visualize and utilize place value knowledge to solve.

When it is time to introduce the standard algorithm, you can relate it to the partial products or area model. I always recommend showing both side by side so students now understand what the carried digit represents, and why the second row is scooted over to the left, etc. Then try some problems like this for your daily mental math number talks (show problem horizontally). I practically guarantee that students who can visualize the manipulatives or the partial products method will get the answer more quickly than those who are performing the std. algorithm “in the air.”

I will take a break this summer and come back every now and then between now and August. Keep in touch! Enjoy your summer!!! Let me know if there are topics you’d like me to address on this blog.

Multiplication Concepts Part 4: Skip Counting

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

This is part 4 in a continuing series of posts about basic multiplication teaching concepts. Use them for beginning lessons or reteaching for struggling learners. Students could be struggling because they were not given enough exposure to concrete and pictorial models before going to the numbers only practices. The focus in this post will be skip counting to determine multiplication products. I will even focus on skip counting done in early grades (counting by 10’s, 5’s, and 2’s). Read on for 10 teaching strategies regarding skip counting.

I am going to give some of my opinions and misconceptions students have about skip counting.

  • Many students do not associate skip counting with multiplication, but just an exercise they started learning in KG and 1st (skip counting orally by 10’s, 5’s, and 2’s).  This is often because they started with numbers only and did not have the chance to see what this looks like using concrete objects or pictorial representations.
  • If you observe students skip counting, are they really just counting by 1’s over and over again? Or are they adding the number they are skip counting by repeatedly.  You know the scenario. You tell a student to skip count by 3’s and they know 3, 6, 9, but then hold up their 3 fingers and count 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and so on.  Or are they truly counting like this: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30?
  • The main issue I have with skip counting is that if a student makes an error regarding just one of the numbers in the sequence, then the rest of the sequence is incorrect. So this should not be their only strategy. Do you recall a previous story I mentioned about the 5th grader who tried to solve 12 x 3 by skip counting on a timed facts test? He was unsuccessful because he kept losing track and didn’t have another strategy to use.
  • Successful skip counting reinforces the concept that multiplication is repeated addition – do your students know this? I have witnessed many students who know the first 2-3 numbers in a skip counting sequence, but then don’t know how to get to the next numbers in the sequence.
  • Students don’t often relate the commutative property to skip counting. Let’s say the problem is 5 x 8. The student tries skip counting by 8’s (because this problem means 5 groups of 8) and may have difficulty.  Does the student try to skip count by 5’s eight times instead?

Ten teaching strategies for skip counting:

  1. For young students skip counting, use objects to show how to keep track:
    • Base 10 rods
    • Rekenrek (easily slide 5 or 10 beads at a time)
    • Hand prints (for counting 5’s or 10’s):  Which do you think would give students a better understanding: Holding up one hand at a time and counting by 5’s or lining up several children and having them hold up their hands as you continue counting? The second scenario enables students to see the total of fingers as opposed to just 5 at a time.
    • Use money: nickels and dimes
    • Associate counting by 2’s with concepts of even and odd
  2. Use manipulatives.  Do it often and with a variety of materials. The arrangements should emphasize the other strategies (equal groups, arrays, repeated addition).
  3. Draw and label pictures. The labels for this strategy would show the cumulative totals instead of just the number in each group.
  4. Arrange students in line or groups to practice skip counting. Example if practicing 4’s: Every 4th student turns sideways, every 4th student holds up their hands, every 4th student sits down. every 4th student holds a card with the number representing their value in the counting sequence, etc.
  5. Practice skip counting while bouncing or dribbling a ball. Great for PE class!
  6. Associate skip counting with sports:  2 and 3 pointers in basketball, 6 points for touchdowns in football, etc.
  7. Use a 0-100 chart to see patterns made when skip counting. I love the 0-100 pocket chart and translucent inserts that allow you to model this whole group. Individual 100 charts are readily available in which students can mark or color the spaces. Here are links to the chart and the translucent inserts: 1-100 pocket chart and Translucent pocket chart inserts

     

  8. Look for other patterns regarding skip counting. Refer to my previous post on this for more details: Skip counting patterns

     

  9. Relate skip counting to function charts and algebraic patterns using growing patterns.
  10. Practice skip counting using money: by 5’s, 10’s, 25’s, 50’s

What strategies do you like for multiplication? What misconceptions do you see with your students?

Next post will be part 5 of my multiplication posts – and the last one for this school year. I will focus on using these basic concepts with double-digit problems. Stay tuned!!

 

Multiplication Concepts Part 3: Equal Groups

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Thanks for checking in on part 3 of my multiplication posts. Focus will be on the equal groups strategy — looking at how students can efficiently use this strategy to help learn basic multiplication facts. My angle will be at the conceptual level by using concrete and pictorial methods.

Basics:

  • Instead of in array or area format, equal groups are separate groups.
  • The “x” means “groups of.”  So 3 x 4 means “3 groups of 4.”

What things normally come in equal groups? Conduct a brainstorming session. I love the book “What Comes in 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s” as a springboard. After reading the book, let students brainstorm other things that come in equal groups. See the pictures below for some more ideas. After some internet research, I also made this attached list to use (in case you or your students draw a blank): click here: Equal groups pictures and list template

Use these lists to help students generate stories about equal groups. When students can create (and maybe illustrate) their own stories, they are much better at solving problems they must read on their own. This also helps students think carefully about what in the story constitutes a “group” and what the “groups of” represents:  

  1. There were 5 bowling balls on the rack. If you count all of the holes (3 per ball), how many holes are there all together? (5 x 3). The bowling balls are the groups. The holes are what is being counted in each group.
  2. How many numbers are shown on 3 clocks? (3 x 12). The clocks are the groups. The numbers are what is being counted in each group.
  3. I bought 8 pair of earrings. How many earrings are there? (8 x 2). The pairs are the groups.
  4. Seven ladybugs were crawling on the leaves. How many legs would there be? (7 x 6). The ladybugs are the groups. The legs are what is being counted in each group.

Ways to show equal groups with objects and drawings:

  • Hula hoops (great to use these in PE class to emphasize multiplication)
  • Embroidery hoops
  • Circles of yarn
  • Dishes:  cup, bowl, plate, tray
  • Baskets
  • Shelves

Objects to use to show equal groups:

  • people
  • cubes
  • tiles
  • mini erasers
  • teddy bear manipulatives
  • base ten materials
  • food: pinto beans, macaroni, cereal, candy
  • practically anything you have an abundance of!!

Teaching concepts regarding equal groups:

  • When students are placing objects or drawing inside, do they randomly place objects? Or do they organize them to enable ease in counting? Showing students how to organize the objects in each set contributes to their knowledge of equal groups — AND it’s a big help to you as the teacher as you check on students. If the dots are randomly placed, the teacher and student must count one at a time to check. If they are organized, teacher and student can tell at a glance if the amount in each group is correct. Notice the difference below: Which ones show a student’s understanding of 9? Which ones can a student or teacher check rapidly?

  • When counting the objects or drawings to determine the product of these equal groups, are students counting one at a time? Or are they counting in equal groups (such as by 2’s, 5’s, 3’s, etc.)? If we allow students to just count by ones, then they are not practicing multiplication, just counting!!

Activities to practice equal groups strategy:

  1. Circles and Stars:  Roll a dice once. This is the number of circles to draw. Roll a dice again. This is the number of stars to draw inside. If played with a partner, students can keep track of their totals to determine a winner. Dice can be varied depending on the facts that need to be practiced. A spinner can also be used. (See picture at beginning of this post.)
  2. Variation of above:  Use other materials (such as those listed above).
    • Dice roll #1 = # of cups. Dice roll #2 = number of cubes
    • Dice roll #1 = # of hoops. Dice roll #2 = # of pinto beans
    • Dice roll #1 = # of plates. Dice roll #2 = # of Cheerios
  3. Write and illustrate stories:  Provide a problem for students to illustrate (example:  6 x 3 or 3 x 6).  Then each student can decide how to form the story and illustrate. I always tell students to choose items they like to draw to make their story. Here are some examples.  See some examples from former students.
    • There were 6 monsters in the cave.  Each monster had 3 eyeballs. How many eyeballs all together?
    • Six princesses lived in the castle. They each had 3 ponies. How many ponies in all?
    • There are 3 plants in the garden. They each have 6 flowers. How many flowers are in my garden?
    • I made 3 pizzas. Each pizza had 6 slices. How many slices of pizza did I make?
  4. PE Class activities:  If your PE teacher likes to help you with your learning objectives, let them know you are working on equal groups strategies. While I’ve not done this personally, I think having relay races related to this would work perfectly. For example, the teacher presents a problem and each team must use hula hoops and objects to show the problem (and the answer).
  5. Try these story books about multiplication:
  6. Equal groups story problems to solve:  See my previous post related to this. You will find some story problem task cards and templates for solving multiplication and division problems using the equal groups strategy. Click HERE

Enjoy!!  

 

Multiplication Concepts Part 2: Arrays

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Last week I posted my thoughts about multiplication strategies using the repeated addition strategy. This time I will focus on using arrays. Do you have some arrays in your classroom? Look for them with bookshelves, cubbies, windows, rows of desks, floor or ceiling tiles, bricks, pocket charts, etc. Students need to know arrays are everywhere! It is also very helpful for students to build arrays with objects as well as draw them. This assists students with moving from concrete to pictorial representations — then the abstract (numbers only) can be conceptualized and visualized more easily. Some good materials for arrays:

  • cubes
  • tiles
  • circular disks
  • flat stones
  • pinto beans (dry)
  • grid or graph paper
  • bingo stamper (to stamp arrays inside grids)
  • mini stickers
  • candy (Skittles, M&Ms, jellybeans)

Array Basics:

  1. Arrays form rectangular shapes.
  2. Arrays are arranged in horizontal rows and vertical columns.  This vocabulary is very important!
  3. The number of objects in each row (and column) in an array are equal.
  4. Arrays can be formed by objects, pictures, or numbers.
  5. Arrays can be described using numbers:  If there are 4 rows and 3 columns, it is a 4 by 3 array.
  6. The number of rows and number in each row are the factors. The product is the total.
  7. When an array is rotated, this shows the commutative property.

Ways to incorporate arrays into story problems:

  • Desks in a class (5 rows, 4 desks in each row)
  • Chairs in a classroom or auditorium (10 rows of chairs, 8 chairs in each row)
  • Plants in a garden (6 rows of corn, 8 corn plants in each row)
  • Boxes in a warehouse (7 stacks, 5 boxes in each stack)
  • Pancakes (3 stacks, 5 pancakes in each stack)
  • Cars in a parking lot (4 rows, 5 cars in each row)
  • Bottles of water in a crate (3 rows, 8 bottles in each row)
  • Donuts or cupcakes in a box (how many rows? how many in each row)

Activities to encourage concrete and pictorial construction of arrays:

  • Start off using manilla grid paper you probably have available with the construction paper supply at your school. This will help students keep their rows and columns even. Pose a problem and allow students to use manipulatives you have available to construct the array.  If you say, “Build an array for this multiplication problem: 3 x 5,” do they know the 3 refers to # of rows and the 5 refers to the number in each row?
  • Turn the paper after building the above array to see the commutative property. Now the picture shows 5 x 3 (5 rows with 3 in each row). The product is still 15.
  • Use the manilla grid paper along with bingo dobbers to create the array.  The grids can also be completed with mini stickers (I get them all the time in junk mail) or drawings.
  • When using pictures of arrays, direct your students to always label 2 sides of the array (the rows and columns). Try to label different sides of the array so it’s not always presented in the same format.
  • Find the product:  The whole point of using an array as a multiplication strategy is to visualize the rows and columns to help calculate the product. If students create rows and columns and then just count the objects one-by-one, then this does not accomplish the objective.  Show students how to skip count using the # of objects in the rows or columns. Believe me, students don’t always know to do this without a hint from the teacher.  Or better yet, before actually telling them to do this, ask students this question: “How did you get the total number of objects?” When you pose this question, you are honoring their strategy while secretly performing an informal assessment. Then when the student who skip counted to find the total shares their strategy, you give them the credit:  “That is an efficient and fast way to count the objects, thank you for sharing! I’d be interested to see if more of you would try that with the next problem.” Plus now students have 2 strategies.
  • Use the distributive property to find the product: Let’s suppose the array was 6 x 7.  Maybe your students are trying to count by 6’s or 7’s to be more efficient – but the problem is that counting by 6’s or 7’s is difficult for most students. Break up (decompose) the array into smaller sections in which the student can use their multiplication skills.  Decomposing into rows or columns of 2’s and 5’s would be a good place to start. This is the distributive property in action – and now the students have 3 strategies for using an array!! This is a great way to use known facts to help with those being learned.Here is a link to Math Coach’s Corner (image credited above) and a great array resource: Multiplication arrays activities from TPT $5.50.  Here is my FREE guided teaching activity to help students decompose an array into 2 smaller rectangles. Click HERE for the free blank template.
  • Use the online geoboard I described a few posts back to create arrays using geobands. Click here for the link: Online geoboard  Click here for the previous post: Geometry websites (blog post)
  • Try these freebies:  Free array activities from k-5mathteachingresources.com. Here’s a sample.

     

  • Play this game I call “Block-It.” This is a competitive partner game in which students must create arrays on grid paper. Click here for a FREE copy of the directions: Block-It Game Directions
  • Relate use of arrays when learning strategies for division and area.

In a future post I will show some ways to use manipulatives and pictures arrays for double digit multiplication problems. Stay tuned!!

Multiplication Concepts Part 1: Repeated Addition

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

The next few posts (until I take a break over the summer) will focus on the basic multiplication concepts one at a time. This will allow the opportunity to dig deeper into the concepts we want students to understand. This one will focus on the concept that multiplication is repeated addition. These posts will be helpful to teachers introducing multiplication to students in 2nd and 3rd grade as well as those in 4th, 5th, 6th and beyond who have missed some of these basic concepts. Future posts will focus on the area (array), set (equal groups), counting, and decomposing models as well as the associative and distributive properties.

Do your students know what the “times” sign means? They may hear it frequently, but not realize what it means. I like to interpret it as “groups of.”  So a problem like 3 x 4 can be said as “3 groups of 4.”

To show repeated addition, that same problem would be 4 + 4 + 4 = 12.

Repeated addition can be shown with numbers, and also with arrays and equal groups. These pictorial models are great for developing multiplication concepts (and will be topics of future posts). However, when students are presented with these models they often count the individual pieces one at a time rather than adding the same amount repeatedly. Observe your students to see how they are counting.

Do your students apply the commutative property of multiplication? This means if the problem is 3 x 4, it can also be solved by thinking of 4 x 3 (which is 4 groups of 3 OR  3 + 3 + 3 + 3). I want students to know even though the answers are the same, the way the factors are grouped is different. When used in a story, 3 x 4 is a different scenario than 4 x 3.

Do your students practice repeated addition, by combining 2 or more numbers? See the following for an illustration of 15 x 6:

Do your students apply the concept of repeated addition to multiple digit multiplication problems as well? I have witnessed students numerous times who only try a problem one way and struggle. For example, on a timed test I witnessed a 5th grader attempt the problem 12 x 3. I observed him counting by 3’s.  He was trying to keep track of this by skip counting by 3’s twelve times. I could tell he had to start over frequently, thus spending a lot of time on this one problem. It became obvious he had no other strategy to try. He finally left it blank and went on. Just think if he had thought of 12 + 12 + 12. This should have been relatively easy for a 5th grader.  He also could have decomposed it to this: (3 x 2) + (3 x 10).

Do your students always go to the standard algorithm when they could perhaps mentally solve the problem by repeated addition? If the problem was 50 x 3, are they thinking 50 + 50 + 50? Or are they using paper-pencil and following the steps?

What about a problem such as 45 x 4?  Using repeated addition, is your student thinking of 40 + 40 + 40 + 40 combined with 5 + 5 + 5 + 5? This is then solved as 160 + 20 = 180.

Students who are able to use repeated addition skillfully are showing a healthy understanding of place value and multiplication. This strategy also enhances mental math capabilities. Conducting daily number talks are highly advised as a way to discuss multiple ways to solve a given problem such as those mentioned above. Check out “Number Talks” in my category list for more information on this. Also check out some recommended videos about conducting number talks (above black bar “Instructional Resources”).

Graphic Organizers for Math

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Here are some cool graphic organizers for your math files!  Make sets of them, laminate or put in plastic sleeves, and use them over and over again!  Graphic organizers help students stay organized and teach them how to complete problems neatly. They are also a great way for students to show different strategies for the same problem. While primary students may need an already-made graphic organizer, intermediate students should be taught how to duplicate them on their own to use whenever the need arises – so the simpler, the better! With repeated use, students are more likely to utilize them regularly in their daily work (and on their scratch paper with assessments).

This one has ten frames and part-part-whole models. In my opinion, these are essential when working with K-2 students because they help children with subitizing, number bonds, and addition / subtraction facts.  If you are using Saxon, you are missing these important strategies!!:

Here’s one to show fractions (area, set, length models)

Need a template for students to make arrays? This one is ready!  I love showing students how to break an array into smaller parts to see how multiplication (or division) facts can be decomposed.  Example:  Make a 6 x 7 array.  Section off a 6 x 5 part. Then you have a 6 x 2 part left over.  This proves:  6 x 7 = (6 x 5) + (6 x 2).  Or — 6 x 7 = 30 + 12 = 42

This graphic organizer shows 5 different multiplication strategies using 2 digit numbers, and a blank one for students to record their thinking. Very handy!!  One of my favorite strategies is partial products. I highly recommend this one before going to the std. algorithm because students decompose the problem by place value and must think about the whole number and not just the parts.

Do your students need something to help them see the different models for a decimal? Try out this graphic organizer. Students will utilize the pictorial forms as well as the abstract.

Do your students know that .7 (or 7/10) is the same as .70 (or 70/100)?  Using this dual set of tenths and hundredths grids will help them see why this is true!

Be sure to check out my FREE templates and organizers (see black bar above “links . . .”)  Please share your favorite graphic organizers for math!  Enjoy!!

Division Basics Part 3: Repeated Subtraction and # Line

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady÷

In my opinion, the process of repeated subtraction is very important for students to practice. With repeated subtraction, we are actually asking this question:  “How many _____ in _______?”  If the problem was 20÷4, we can ask, “How many 4’s are in 20?”  The process is to keep subtracting 4 (using concrete, pictorial, and abstract methods) until zero is reached.  This would be done 5 times — thus, 20 ÷ 4 = 5.

Much like multiplication, there are different aspects of division children should become familiar with.

  • Arrays 
  • Equal Groups
  • Repeated Subtraction
  • Number lines
  • Skip counting

The focus today will be to help children understand how repeated subtraction can assist with the division process (using manipulatives, drawings, and paper-pencil methods). The template pictured here is FREE from: Multip. and Division templates FREE from Number Two Pencils @ TpT

The reason the repeated subtraction strategy is important is because this is what we are really asking students to do when they encounter long division or partial quotient problems. With the problem 100 ÷ 4, the question is, “How many 4’s are in 100?” If the repeated subtraction process is used, the answer is of course, 25.  But subtracting 4 twenty-five times is not very efficient.  So we want the student to get closer to 100 and subtract larger amounts than 4 at a time. The partial quotients method would allow the student to do this in chunks.  1 solution could be to subtract 40 (ten 4’s), subtract another 40 (ten more 4’s), subtract 20 (five 4’s).  See picture below: Continue reading

Division Basics Part 2: Equal Groups

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Last post featured division using arrays and the area model.  This post will focus on helping children see division as equal groups. Most of us have used the “plates of cookies” analogy to help kids see how to represent equal groups in a drawing.  I will just take that a few more steps to increase efficiency.

Much like multiplication, there are different aspects of division children should get familiar with:

  • Arrays 
  • Equal Groups
  • Repeated Subtraction
  • Number lines
  • Skip counting

In this post, I will break down the benefits of equal groups models to help children understand division (and how it is related to multiplication). Check out the freebies within this post.

If you haven’t utilized this book with your students, please try to find a copy!  It’s called The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins.  In this story, Ma makes some cookies to be split between the kids.  Then the doorbell rings and more kids come, so the problem has to be refigured. This scenario repeats. As a class, you can duplicate the story with a different # of cookies and children.

Another great story emphasizing equal groups (as well as arrays) is the story One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor Pinczes.  In this story, 100 ants are on their way to raid a picnic. They start off in one straight line (1 x 100), but then rearrange into different equal groups to shorten the line (2 lines of 50, 4 lines of 25, etc.). A nice project after reading this book is to see how many ways a different given # of ants (or other animals / objects) can be divided into equal groups / rows.

 

By clicking on the links for each book above, you will be taken to Amazon for more details.

As I mentioned earlier, many children’s view of equal groups regarding division is to use manipulatives and/or draw circles / plates to match the divisor and then divide up the “cookies” equally in these groups.  Let’s say you had this problem: “There are 12 cookies to be divided onto 3 plates equally.  How many cookies would go on each plate?” As you observe the students:

  • How are they dividing up the cookies? One at a time, two at a time, randomly, trial and error?
  • Are the “cookies” scattered randomly on the plate / circle?  Or, are they arranged in an easy-to-see pattern so they are easily counted (by the student and yourself as you walk around the room)?
  • Are the students able to verbally tell you how they divided them?
  • Are the students making the connection to multiplication by noting that 3 x 4 = 12?
  • Can they solve similar problems using language other than plates / cookies?
    • Try shelves / books; trays / brownies; buildings / windows; flowers / petals; students / rows of desks, stars / # of points; aquariums / fish; boxes / donuts; etc.

Use of manipulatives of various types (cubes, tiles, counters) is important for children to have their hands on the objects being divided. This is how they work out their thinking. Then work toward paper/pencil drawings before going to the abstract use of numbers only.  This doesn’t have to be done in separate lessons, however. There is great value for children to see how the concrete, pictorial, and abstract representations all work together.

Also, help children list synonyms for the dividing process:  distribute, share, split, separate, halve, quarter, partition

Here are a few strategies I believe help make the equal groups process more efficient: Continue reading

Division Basics Part 1: Arrays and Area Model

by OK Math and Reading Lady

Division seems to be the hot topic with classes I have been visiting lately, so I thought I’d focus on that for now. Let’s look at some of the basics.  Students as young as first grade actually start thinking about division when working on fraction standards such as:  Determine fair share — equal parts. Most students have had practical experience with dividing sets of objects in their real life to share with friends, classmates, or family (cookies, pizza, crayons, money, pieces of paper). So now our job as teachers is to relate this real-life experience with the division algorithm.

Much like multiplication, there are different aspects of division children should get familiar with:

  • Arrays 
  • Equal Groups
  • Repeated Subtraction
  • Number lines
  • Skip counting

In this post, I will break down the benefits and uses for arrays (and the related area model) to help children understand division (and how it is related to multiplication). There’s a fun FREE game (Block-It) at the end of the post.

What is an array?  An array is a rectangular model made up of rows and columns.  When an array is constructed, the factors are represented by the number of rows and columns.  So, do your students know the difference in a row and column?  (Rows go horizontally, while columns are vertical.)  These are important math terms students should be using.

  • Give students experience constructing arrays with manipulative objects (tiles, chips, cubes, etc.):
    • You can be specific, such as: “Build an array using a total of 12 tiles. Put them in 3 rows.  How many columns did you create?” In this scenario, there is only 1 way to show this array. Students would be modeling 12 ÷ 3 = 4. Twelve is the dividend (the total amount you started with). The # of rows is the divisor (how it was divided).  The quotient is the result (in this case the # of columns).
    • You can also be a little more open ended such as:  “Build an array using 12 tiles. Is there more than one way to do this?” If students are given the opportunity to explore, they hopefully find arrays such as 3 x 4; 4 x 3; 2 x 6; 6 x 2; 1 x 12; or 12 x 1. Students would be modeling 12 ÷ 4; 12 ÷ 2; 12 ÷1, etc.
  • Give students experience drawing arrays:
    • You can be specific or open-ended (as above).
    • Children can free-hand draw or use grid paper.  If using grid paper, then these can be cut out and displayed as “Different ways to divide 12.”
  • Give students experience using pre-drawn arrays:
    • Students should label the sides of the array with numbers.
    • Use the numbers shown to determine the fact family.  Example:  3 x 4 = 12; 4 x 3 = 12; 12 ÷ 3 = 4; and 12 ÷ 4 = 3
  • After the array is made, ask questions or explore more such as:
    • How many 3’s are in 12? (count the columns)
    • How many 4’s are in 12? (count the rows)
    • Circle the rows and / or columns to see the groups more easily.
    • Help children make up story problems to match the array:  “I have 12 desks that I need to arrange in 3 rows. How many desks will be in each row?” or “I need to put 12 books equally onto 3 shelves. How many books will go on each shelf?

Continue reading

Math Problem Solving Part 5: Multiplication and Division Comparisons

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

As I promised, here is a post about another multiplication and division story structure.

The dinosaur is about twice as tall as the human. The dinosaur is about 12 times wider than the human.

While the previous structure I mentioned dealt with equal groups, this one deals with comparisons.  Like with addition / subtraction comparison problems, I will show some ways to use double bars to illustrate these. (I just added a FREEBIE – a 2-pg. pdf showing the pictures of the problems shown below – get it now Equal groups comparison problem pics)

Notice some of the questions associated with these stories. They sound a lot like questions used in other story structures — this is why I advise against statements like, “If it asks how many in all, add the numbers together.” Notice how this method guides a student as they go from pictorial to abstract. You can also represent these types of problems with cubes or money manipulatives if you need a concrete example.

This problem shows a multiplying process.

  1. Read the problem. Ask who and what this story is about (Joe and Brent – Joe has more $ than Brent). Notice  there is no additive or subtractive process, but one has more – the other has less. This is a signal to use comparison bars to help solve.
  2. Make a vertical line (to help line up the bars evenly on the left side. Draw the bar with the known amount. (Joe has $22.)  Label the second bar (Brent).

3. Since the story said Brent has 3 time more, draw 3 bars equal to the size of Joe’s bars.

4. Since Joe’s bar is $22 and the bars by Brent’s name are equal in size, all of Brent’s bars should be labeled with $22.

5.  To find out how much Brent has, solve by repeated addition or multiplication.

6.  IF the question was slightly different (How much do Joe and Brent have all together?), then the above steps would have to be followed by 1 more step (adding the two amounts together).

* If students had been taught earlier to “Add when the question asks How many in all” then the child would likely add $22 + 3 to get their answer.  That signals no conceptual understanding of what the problem is all about:  One has more, the other has less.

The following example involves the division of a bar to help solve it. Continue reading

Math Problem Solving Part 4: Equal Groups

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Are you ready for a way to help students solve multiplication and division word problems? I have developed a template that will help students record the given facts and think through the process involving equal groups. There are 3 basic types of equal groups problems:

  • # of groups and # in each group are known
  • # of groups and total are known
  • # in each group and total are known

Pictured here is an illustration of the strategy which can be used for multiplication and division problems. Get my FREE packet right here: Equal groups strategy with template.

One of the most important steps I recommend when working with equal groups problems is for students to brainstorm things that typically come in equal groups. There is a great book titled “What Comes in 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s” which can set the stage. It’s a picture book, but helpful to get kids’ brains warmed up.  Here are some visuals I made to illustrate the point. Click here for your FREE copy. They are included in this set of Equal groups pictures and list template

Kids may need your help to think of things to add to the list. See some hints below. This template and a full list is included in the above FREE download. Continue reading

Making Sense of Division (3rd-5th)

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Is division a dreaded topic on your list of objectives to teach? Like many math topics, students have a harder time understanding it most likely because it’s not something they use regularly in their lives. Students should understand why division is useful before they have to start solving division problems. In this post, I will focus on helping students see the relationship between subtraction, multiplication, and division both with concrete objects, pictures, and the partial quotients model. Freebies available below!!

Then let’s talk about what division really is — it is repeated subtraction; much the way multiplication is repeated addition. The issue is that repeated subtraction is not always very efficient. Here’s what I mean.

Let’s say I have the basic problem 25 ÷ 5.  I could start with 25 and then subtract 5, subtract another 5, another 5, another 5, and another 5 until I run out and reach zero.  I would have to do this 5 times. If I had 25 cookies that I wanted to share equally among 5 friends, I could do the “one for you, one for you, one for you, one for you, and one for you” process and still end up with 5 cookies for each. Or I could try “two for you, two for you,” etc. to make the action of passing out the cookies faster. When I get down to 5 cookies, I return to the “one for you . . .” to make it work.

With a larger problem such as 72 ÷ 6, I can again try subtracting 6 at a time until I reach zero. This would take 12 repetitions — not efficient, but still accurate. Could I subtract 12 at a time instead (2 groups of 6) to be more efficient? Or 18 at a time, or 24 at at time? This is the idea behind the partial quotients model I will refer to a little later. Continue reading

Discovering Decimals Part 3: Multiplication and Division

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

This is the last part of number operations dealing with decimals: multiplication and division in a concrete and pictorial method. This is actually not part of the KG-5th grade OAS standards, but it is addressed in 6th grade and for those of you utilizing the CCSS, you will find multiplication and division with decimals starts in 5th grade.  Or you may have advanced students who are ready to explore this concept. There are a couple of freebies included in this post. Read on to find them!

Multiplying Decimals:

Typically we teach our students that when you multiply 2 numbers together, the product is larger than the 2 factors. And when we divide two numbers, the quotient is smaller than the dividend.

Be careful about stating this generalization: This remains true when multiplying whole numbers (or even a combination of whole and decimal such as 5.2 x 6.4 = 33.28 in which the product is larger than either factor), but NOT with decimals or fractions less than 1 (example: .7 x .2 = .14 in which .14 is less than either factor .7 or .2). With division of decimals less than 1, the answer is often a whole number larger than either the divisor or the dividend (such as 5 divided by 1/2 = 10). This is a difficult concept, but modeling and practicing with concrete and pictorial models helps to see the reasoning. So, be careful not to say, “When you multiply two numbers together you always get a bigger number.” because it’s not always true.

To further understand this principal, let’s look at the use of the times (x) sign with whole numbers. The problem 5 x 2 could be shown in an array as 5 rows with 2 in each row (phrased as 5 “rows of” 2).  It can be shown in a set model such as 5 groups and each group has 2 (phrased as 5 “groups of” 2) . It can also be shown in an area model (box) as a shape divided equally into 5 rows and 2 columns (phrased as 5 “by” 2). Continue reading

Multiplication Strategies Part 5: All Strategies Combined PDF

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

One of my subscribers really liked the multiplication strategies I posted in my 4 part series, but was finding it difficult to copy them for easy reference. So . . . I pooled pictures of the boards onto a single PDF (it’s 10 pages) and am providing it here (and also with the 4th part of the series). Click here for your copy: Multiplication Strategies PDF

Enjoy!!

Multiplication Strategies Part 4: Doubling and Halving (and Lattice)

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Doubling and . . .

I hope you have had a chance to look at Parts 1, 2, and 3 of my multiplication strategy posts. These strategies are especially helpful with 3rd – 5th grade students (and beyond). I have been reading a book by Dr. Nicki Newton called “Guided Math in Action.” She discusses five components to being mathematically proficient. One of them is strategic competence.  What is strategic competence? The National Research Council defines it as “the ability to formulate mathematical problems, represent them, and solve them.” The first process std. in Common Core (Make Sense of Problems and Persevere in Solving Them) emphasizes strategic competence in this way: “they try special cases and simpler

Halving Multip. Strategy

forms of the original problem in order to gain insight into its solution, . . . students check their answers to problems using a different method, and they continually ask themselves, Does this make sense? . . . and, they can understand the approaches of others to solving complex problems and identify correspondences between different approaches.”

With all of that said, I would like to show two other multiplication strategies: 1) Doubling and Halving, and 2) the Lattice Method. All of the strategies picture boards I have shown are available on this free PDF (It’s 10 pages): Multiplication Strategies PDF

Doubling and Halving
Doubling and halving is supported by the associative property. It also enables the student to use mental math strategies. Here is an example:  Original Problem: 25 x 12.  When changed to 50 x 6, I can solve it mentally which equals 300.  From what I have researched and applied, here are some tips:

  • Use when a problem has one even and one odd factor (or two even factors).  It won’t work with 2 odd factors because you can’t break an odd number in half and still get a whole number.
  • Double the odd factor and halve the even factor. Do this 1-3 times until you get two factors which can be multiplied mentally.
  • Most useful when the odd factor has a 5 in the one’s place (because 5 doubled is 10, so the result will be a multiple of 10 which can usually be taken care of mentally).

How is the above problem connected to the associative property?

  • Think of 25 x12 as 25 x (2 x 6).
  • If I apply the associative property, I get (25 x 2) x 6 = 50 x 6 = 300.
  • I can also go another step further and show that 50 x 6 = 50 x (2 x 3) = (50 x 2) x 3 = 100 x 3 = 300.
  • Here is another one: Think of 15 x 24 as 15 x (2 x 12) = (15 x 2) x 12 = 30 x 12 = 360.
  • See my pictures below of how that looks in array form with the problems 3 x 4 and 5 x 12.

Continue reading

Multiplication Strategies Part 3: Connecting to Place Value

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

In  Multiplication, Part 3  I will focus on 3 strategies for double digit numbers:  area model, partial products, and the bowtie method. Please also refer back to my Dec. 6th post on Number Talks for 3rd-5th grade where I mentioned these and other basic strategies for multiplication. I highly recommend helping students learn these methods BEFORE the standard algorithm because it is highly linked to number sense and place value. With these methods, students should see the magnitude of the number and increase their understanding of estimation and the ability to determine the reasonableness of their answer. Then, when they are very versed with these methods, learn the standard algorithm and compare side by side to see how they all have the same information, but in different format. Students then have a choice of how to solve. Try my “Choose 3 Ways” work mat as bell work or ticket in the door. Get it free here.

Area Model: This method can be illustrated with base ten manipulatives for a concrete experience. Remember the best methods for student learning (CPA) progresses from concrete (manipulatives) to pictorial (drawings, templates, pictures) to abstract (numbers only). Using a frame for a multiplication table, show the two factors on each corner (see examples below for 60 x 5 and 12 x 13). Then fill in the inside of the frame with base ten pieces that match the size of the factors. You must end up making a complete square or rectangle. This makes it relatively easy to see and count the parts: 60 x 3 and 5 x 3 for the first problem and (10 x 10) + (3 x 10) + (2 x 10) + (2 x 3) for the second. I’ve included a larger problem (65 x 34) in case you are curious what that looks like. The first 2 could be managed by students with materials you have in class, but I doubt you want to tackle the last one with individual students – nor do you probably have that many base ten pieces. A drawing or model would be preferred in that case. The point of the visual example is then to connect to the boxed method of the area model, which I have shown in blank form in the examples . . . and with pictures below. I also included a photo from another good strategy I saw on google images (sorry, I don’t know the author) which also shows 12 x 13 using graph paper. Continue reading

Multiplication Strategies Part 2: Decomposing and distributive property to learn facts

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

In part 2, I will show you some ways to help students decompose a multiplication problem into 2 (or more) easier multiplication problems. Most students know problems with factors of 2, 5, and 10. The decomposing will allow students to use what they know to work on the unknown / unmemorized fact.

I frequently see students struggle with solving an unknown multiplication problem. Often they choose skip counting, but if they miss just one number in the sequence, the answer comes out wrong. I also see them use their multiplication chart, but this doesn’t do much to help them apply number sense. Other times I see students draw circles with dots inside, but this is time consuming and it often becomes just a counting practice. This method is using the distributive property. Students can break apart one of the factors into “friendly” addends. I usually advise making one of the addends a 2, 5, or 10 since those are usually easier to compute or are already memorized. Here are some examples:

 

 

I have also attached a class activity sheet in which students cut out grids, glue them on the worksheet and then decompose them. Get it free here: Distributive property teaching chart  Another resource for teachers is my multiplication strategies guide which shows some ways to break down each factor’s family. Get it here free: Multiplication fact strategies chart  Finally, here is a link to a TPT source with a freebie for using the distributive property with arrays: Distrib. Property of Multip. freebie by Tonya’s Treats for Teachers

Have a great Spring Break for Oklahoma teachers!! I will be back in 2 weeks with more multiplication strategies.

Multiplication Strategies Part 1: Basic Strategies and skip counting

Are you looking for some ways to help your students learn the multiplication facts? Or ways to help them solve multiplication problems while they are in the process of learning the facts? One way is to skip count or repeatedly add the number over and over again. While this is one acceptable strategy, I see many students skip count using their fingers, often starting over numerous times. And if the child miscounts just one number in the sequence, then all of the remaining multiples/products are incorrect. Sometimes the student will write down the sequence in a horizontal row (better than using fingers in my opinion), but again – if they miss one number . . . all the rest of the numbers in their list are wrong.

What I want to show you today (in Part I of my series about multiplication strategies) are ways to relate the multiples/products in recognizable patterns which may facilitate recall and help with committing the facts to memory. Yes, students should also know the following about multiplication:

  1. Multiplication is repeated addition. For example: 3 x 4 means 3 groups of 4 or 4 + 4 + 4 = 12
  2. Multiplication is equal groups. 3 x 4 might be shown with 3 circles and 4 dots in each one. Be cautious about continued use of this one. Students are good at drawing this out, but then are they actually adding repeated groups or just counting one dot at a time. Observe students to see what they are doing. Transition to showing 3 circles with the number 4 in each one.
  3. Multiplication is commutative. If solving 7 x 2 (7 groups of 2), does the student count by 2’s seven times, or perhaps make it more efficient by changing it around to make it 2 x 7 (2 groups of 7 — and adding 7 + 7)?
  4. Multiplication can be shown with arrays. If students are drawing arrays to help solve, watch how they are computing the product. Are they counting one dot at a time? Or are they grouping some rows or columns together to make this method more efficient. I will focus on this one in Part 2.
  5. Multiplication can be shown by skip counting.

I have included 2 visuals to see some of my favorite ways to relate skip counting to unique patterns (for the 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 6’s, 8’s, and 9’s). And another pattern below:

  • An even number x an even number = an even number
  • An odd number x an even number = an even number
  • An odd number x an odd number = an odd number

 

Next post will be Part 2 of Multiplication Strategies. Have a great week!