Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Struggle is Real!!!

     For the past 5 weeks I have been in a brutal war.  The majority of the time I felt like multiplication was winning the battle.  Just this week I realized that I was going to be victorious in this fight.  In the interest of full disclosure I will tell you that during this war I doubted my abilities as a teacher on more than one occasion.  Many a day I went home ready to pull my hair out.  If you are having the same troubles as me I know you are dying to know how I got (most of) my kids to successfully multiply multi-digit numbers.  The answer is: a plethora of ways.

     The first thing I tried with my kiddos was popsicle sticks. When working with my small group students told me that having so many numbers was confusing.  I showed students how to use a popsicle stick to cover the bottom number in the tens place while they multiplied the number in the ones column.  Next, students used the stick to cover the bottom number, and answer in the ones column while they multiplied by the tens column.  This also helped them line up the answer from the tens column since the popsicle stick served as a place holder.  Luckily, about 1/3 of my class had success with this method.


For the rest of my class I had to try another method.  We moved on from popsicle sticks to color coded multiplication.  I found this idea on pinterest and a few of my kids really seemed to understand better when they used the colored pencils.  Rather than try to explain it and confuse you, here is a self explanatory picture.

 
Also included in the picture(on the right) is the expanded form method I used.  I had students break the problem down into expanded form and multiply from there.  This method helped those who still hadn't learned all their facts, but were good at multiplying by 10s.  For others they started with this method, and once they fully grasped the process they were able to move on to the "old fashioned" way.
 
This week we have moved on to division (shoot me now!!!), and all the success I felt with the multiplication is gone.  I already have a few tricks up my sleeve to help students find "their way" that makes the most sense to them.  Check back next month to see how my students do with the division.

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