No Easy Way to Learn Multiplication Facts

One¬†might argue that nothing is easy to learn. The very essence of the word learn means you don’t have knowledge that you must acquire new knowledge and acquiring it comes by a lot of work. Still, there are an abundance of videos on Youtube that claim they are an “easy way” to learn your times tables. I’ve looked at a lot of them and none of them live up to that claim. Some of my fourth graders are dragging their feet about learning their times tables and I’m finding they fail because they expect it to be easy when it isn’t. I remember when I was in 3rd grade, my mom sat me down on the couch and began drilling me with flash cards. I was missing a lot back then and she would put the ones I missed in a pile separate from the rest. The ones I consistently knew she put away next to her. That was the “no duh” pile. I would work on the harder ones until I had them. I specifically recall she wouldn’t let me off the couch to play or do anything until I could answer them all correctly. I remember that particular night I was able to go through the whole pile correctly. More or less I’ve had them memorized ever since (from age 9 to 45). Kids today seem to not understand that a little bit of discomfort can shield you from discomfort the rest of your life. I think one of the problems with society these days is that the students of America think learning should be easy.

My kids who aren’t passing are showing signs of the “easy way” having been tried and failed. They count on their fingers and in their heads when all they need to do is memorize the answer. Once memorized, those of us who know our times table can attest, the answers come fast and easy. There is a certain point in mathematics when you really can’t go any further without memorizing your times tables. I’m a fourth grade teacher and my kids really should already know their facts. I have a handful of kids every year that come to me not proficient in their times tables. This year it’s an inordinately large number. I’ve been entrusting the parents to do the job and in some kids’ cases it’s happening. There are about 8 our of 26 that just aren’t digging in so I have to try a new technique. A sticker chart on the wall and daily testing is my first approach. I do other things as well. What do you use to foster memorization of the times tables?

Author: Damien Riley

Having been a public school teacher since 1997, I've gained valuable classroom experience. Sometimes a great tool is a dynamite lesson plan. These posts are from a real teaching journey. I hope they inspire you. Thanks for reading!

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