Times Tables... 'what... AGAIN?'

A conversation with a mom who was just starting the program for the summer and to continue into next academic year, led her to ask the question:

‘Ok- I see that it is really important to get going with UNIT 4 Times Tables, but can you tell me where we should begin?’

This was interesting to ponder over, and so I suggested she do what I do when I have a new student…. I find out where they are ‘at’… and it starts by me asking the students where s/he feels they are ‘at’ with Times Tables. This sometimes results in a shoulder shrug, and a look of despondency… so I quickly make a list like this: 2x 3x 4x 5x 6x 7x 8x 9x 10x 11x 12x, and ask , ‘Which ones do you sort-of-feel-ok with’?

Then (usually) we come to the conclusion that s/he feels ‘sort of ok’ with 2x, 5x, 10x, 11x, and so I explore this further to see whether the student can just count up in those steps, or if the ‘facts’ are known ‘quick-fact’ style. Whichever level they are at, I make a big deal of celebrating the fact they feel ‘ok’ with these- THIS IS A GREAT START!! WELL DONE.

Then I work on firming these up by using the ideas/tips explored in my book, and try to get the 2x, 5x, 10x, 11x to a ‘quick fact knowledge’ status… or ‘fairly-quick’ fact status.

Then I move on to teaching the 9x and 12x tricks (to be found in Unit 4), and start to build up the confidence by playing ‘hot seat’ where I ask any TT from the ones covered so far, and wait patiently, with no time challenges or pressures to see if the student can reach the answer. AT THIS POINT… CONFIDENCE IS ON ITS WAY UP!! AND THIS IS SO KEY. Time for another celebration.

Once 2x/5x/9x/10x/11x/12x are starting to feel somewhere near, I then move onto 3x and 4x… which then of course only leaves 6x, 7x, 8x… but HEY PRESTO…. the student will be delighted to see that most of the 6x, 7x, 8x facts are actually covered already from learning the others (as e.g. 4 x 6 will have been ‘covered’ by knowing the 4s).

This confidence and skill building of the TT facts will help the student to cope with so much up and coming math- as I have mentioned before in my blogs.

I think you are starting to get the feeling that I feel that learning TT is so, so, so important to feeling better about future math!! And don’t worry if learning them takes time… now is the only time we have to get started! One day at a time….