Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It's a Teachable Kind of Tuesday.

Calling all fellow teachers!!
Or people with kids!!
Or people who work in after school programs,
or tutor,
or babysit,
or work with kids in any way!!!

I have a brilliant idea for you, brought to you by Tuesday.
Tuesday is always a good day for a teachable moment, I think.

So, as a special education teacher the multiplication chart is 
probably the number one tool in my arsenal for math.
Keep in mind that I work with 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.
If I was working with smaller kids I would probably say the 100s chart is number one.
But for my kids, it's definitely the multiplication chart.

I use it for all kinds of stuff.
Multiplication facts...obviously.
Division, especially long division.
Fractions. 
Decimals.

So on and so forth.
I actually have about 7 multiplication charts placed around my kidney bean table so that each kid has one to use when they are working in math group.

I know that you're all probably thinking that a multiplication chart is not a groundbreaking advancement in teaching. It's actually been around for quite some time now, so what's the genius idea I was referring to?

If you tape a multiplication chart to a table or desk with packing tape,
or laminate the chart and tape it to the desk,
 the students can draw lines with dry erase marker to find what they are looking for.

For example, if they are looking for the answer to 9 x 9,
they can draw a line on each number until they meet.  
Then they know they have their answer at the intersection.



After they find the right answer they can just wipe the chart clean and move on to the next problem!

Some of my kids prefer to count down a certain number of rows
instead of trying to find where two numbers intersect.
For these students, they can simply put a dot in each number 
as they count down the number of rows they need.

So if they are looking for 8 x 9 
they know they need to count down 10 (because of the 0's row) rows in the 8's column.
When they've place 10 dots in the 8's column they know they've reached their answer.


It works really well and it takes some of the common mistakes out of using multiplication charts.
Before I let my kids do this they would often rush through it and end up with a wrong answer because they didn't follow the row straight across or they miscounted how many rows they needed to go down.
But this is basically foolproof - you can clearly see when you didn't draw a line straight with marker. 
And the kids think it's awesome because it's an excuse to use dry erase markers.
You know, just about the best thing ever?

So that's it! 
It's funny because technically one of my students actually came up with this idea.
I kinda laid the groundwork by taping down my multiplication charts and she just took out a marker one day and started using it to make it easier for her.

And voila!
A genius idea was born.
Ahh, what the minds of a 20-something teacher and an 11 year old student can come up with.
The possibilities are endless.
Happy Tuesday!

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