I made a comic (well, three of them)
When I taught basic math in ABE, students were lost when it came to the times tables. They all remembered struggling with flashcards and timed tests. They remembered feeling frustrated. They remembered parents and teachers urging them to “try harder” when they were trying as hard as they could.
I saw how the times tables had been a stumbling block to all the math classes that followed. When you cannot recall the times tables, it is very difficult to understand and work with fractions and per cents, which come next. I saw how the teasing, and the feelings of failure or not being smart enough had taken all the joy out of math learning, and followed them into their adult lives.
Mathematicians know that the times tables make sense, that there are patterns that show how they are related to each other. You don’t have to memorize individual facts if you see and understand the patterns. But for my students, the facts on the table chart were meaningless, and a source of misery.
I wanted to reach out to elementary school kids who are meeting the times tables for the first time, to prevent them from growing up to be the students in my remedial classes. I want them to see the sense in the times tables. I want them to dance with third grade math, not be defeated by it. I want them to find the joy.
I did not discover any new math. But I put together a system that would show kids the patterns that make sense of the times tables. Then I wrote a story around it, a story of two kids and a dog.
That story became the three books in the series Times Tables Make Sense. I hope it is useful for kids everywhere, and that it saves many parents from having to deal with their kids’ times table misery.