Multiplication is very important. It is a life-skill that is used in ,any different settings, from food preparation to driving an automobile to performing job functions to planning for a party. Now, I know that these aren’t things a typical nine- or ten-year-old would deal with on a daily basis, but that’s part of the point: mist children don’t use these life-skills for adult things. But kids also use multiplication when playing games and doing other typical childhood activities. Some may scoff and say that they don’t use multiplication that much. That’s probably because they don’t even realize they are doing it!
Therefore, it is important to me that my students all understand not just how to multiply, but what is going on when they are performing such computations. Concepts like equal groups, equal shares, area, and array are all important to facilitate thus understanding. In order to do these things, they have to have mastered basic multiplication facts, what we used to call the “times tables”.
We do a lot of practice to foster increased understanding, build mastery, and develop fluency. One tool I use is my multiplication dice, which are just two twelves-sided dice in a cup. Another tool is the weekly online multiplication quiz found on Mr. Martini’s Classroom. A third tool is XtraMath.org, which students use several times a week. Yet another tool is one of the most traditional of tools: the 100-item multiplication timed test. The students have 6 minutes to find the products for all the problems. Students will take this test once a month.
Although all of these tools are similar, they each serve the dual purpose of helping me know what my students need to work on and helping them gain confidence and deepen their skills.