The Best of Teachers' Mentor
I started teaching multiplication and division facts with the count-bys when the remedial math students in my class were doing better on my multiplication fact timed tests than the other students. The remedial math teacher had adopted this method from the DISTAR program. (Anyone out there old enough to remember that one?)
During the first semester we practiced counting by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, & 9. We stopped counting at the ten. (ex. 5s went to 50, 6s went to 60.) This was just rote memory.
One way of practicing was to write the count-by on the chalkboard. As we counted the first time, we added on to get the next number. Once the count-by was up, we repeated it chorally several times. Then I would erase one or two numbers and we would repeat the count-by, filling in the missing numbers. Once the class could do that without stumbling, I erased more numbers. This continued until they could recite it without the written prompt.
When we started working on multiplication and division after Christmas, I showed them how to use the count-bys and fingers to figure out a fact.
Using manipulatives is another way to help children understand the concepts of multiplication and division. Beans, Unifix cubes, or any small item can be used.
For children to be efficient with higher level multiplication and division, not to mention fractions, they need to KNOW the basic facts. This requires lots of practice. In my class, we played fact games like Around the World (a flash card game) and Quizmo. We did lots of drill sheets. I gave timed tests on the facts.
But if a child was stuck, s/he had the finger counting method to fall back on. I allowed students to use this even on my timed fact tests.
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