It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 18 2011

The wacky times tables

Many of my sixth graders still don’t know the times tables.  I know that there’s a theory that in today’s age with calculators, kids don’t need to know the times tables.  Instead, teachers can concentrate on much harder problems that involve critical thinking and move away from the rote process of memorizing and practicing algorithms.

As a math major, I disagree with this.  There’s something to even learning the times tables that builds a foundation to build upon for higher math.

I think about half my students know the times tables pretty well, but for the other half, I’ve tried to come up with some alternative way of learning them.  How many times have they been given a copy of the times tables and were told to memorize them?  So I made this thing, which I hope works.

The idea is to make the times tables less intimidating by reducing it to just 36 boxes instead of 100.  Also, by putting it into a random order, it is something they can study like flashcards.  I know the old thing didn’t work, so it can’t hurt to try it this way.

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    The 'lost' blog of 1991 Corps Member Gary Rubinstein


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