Sunday, April 08, 2007

Multiplication Madness

More Irises
We are in multiplication hell around here.

Sabi does very well academically in all subjects. The one area she needs some extra assistance in though is in memorization of her multiplication tables. Sabina can multiply correctly when given time but she doesn't know her facts to automaticity. She knows how to get to the answer though. She will either just keep adding to find the answer or she will do little "what if" math scenarios to figure it out. Take 8 x 3 for example. Instead of simply memorizing the answer, 24, she says "Ok, if 4 x 3 is 12 and 4 is half of 8 then 12 doubled is 24." Man! That is just too much work! Thank goodness for the fact that she talks her problems out, out loud so I can peek into that brain of hers to help her out.

I have been trying to impress upon Sabina that memorization of the multiplication facts is SO much simpler and quicker. I bought some flash cards for us to practice with around the house and in the car. This has only brought tears to our lives. Each time Sabina gets one wrong, or doesn't say it in 10 seconds, the tears flow. It didn't matter to her that she had 146 right out of 169. She wanted to get them all right. This brings up another little problem. Sabina wants to have perfection but she really doesn't want to put the effort into it.

What to do??? Any great ideas?


Elizabeth said...

It may seem cumbersome to you, but the way she's doing it is more accurate than memorization, gives her a better insight into mathematics, and is more useful as a springboard to other skills. I'd just leave it alone, personally. (A recent conversation at work revealed that about half of my colleagues, me included, never succeeded in memorizing multiplication tables. That includes all the brightest people in the company AND the one who was speed champion at his school!) I'm always the one pointing out other people's math error, because they use "memorized" answers that they didn't quite memorize... or that didn't remain sharp for 40 years.

If you really want to speed up her math, look for a good book on mental math tricks, and she can treat it as a game.

The perfectionism is a whole other question. But I'm not generally perfectionist, and speed multiplication quizzes always made me cry. It wasn't that I got it wrong; it was that the pressure made my brain hurt or something. Getting spelling words wrong didn't make me cry.

Xolo said...

In Mexico, there were songs that used the mathematical tables which helped me learn.

I also have very convoluted ways of getting to a product, but it works quickly in my mind. It also helps me multiply big numbers together quickly without a calculator.

She needs to find a way that works well in her mind. It may take a while, but she'll get there (as long as it is not pressured).

Cracked Chancla said...

i'm no math expert and not a teacher and sabi's way does seem a bit long but i can't help wondering if her way strengthens problem solving skills. i also didn't do too well in memorizing multiplications and i would do a lot of counting to get to my answer but eventually as i grew i did begin to memorize them on my own. and well perfectionism, i'm still trying to figure out how to resolve that one. good luck to you both.

MsAbcMom said...

Thanks for your ideas everyone!

As a teacher I know that Sabi's long way of problem solving really demonstrates her mastery of the content. I am so glad to know that she has this ability because this means that she really grasps the concept.

I kind of see this in the same way that I see the fluency testing in reading. To me it really doesn't matter how fast you go as long as you get there correctly.

I am still going to forge ahead with the times table memorization due to the fact that she takes weekly tests and is graded on them! Whether I believe in it or not, I have to help her succeed in her classroom.

Progressive Texas Chicano said...

The 9's are the easiest to learn.
Just write 9 and the descending #s below it. Then, write 9 and the ascending numbers above them (starting at the 9X10) and u get the answers:


I remember my mom teaching me that quick trick!