Change Up the Way You Teach the Times Tables

Change Up the Way You Teach the Times Tables

Times Tables Make Sense

Times Tables like you’ve never seen before! I’ve written a graphic novel series with a new system for teaching the times tables.

The new system would be a good one for adult students–it teaches for understanding, the exercises match the method, and it allows for the fact that our students often are not good at rote memory work and timed tests.

A kids’ book for adult students?

So how could you use this method with adult students, even though the book is written for 7-9 year olds?

Download Book 1 FREE from December 1 to December 5, 2022. Check it out here.

The ideal situation might be to work with a group of parents and guardians, and offer a mini course in helping their kids with the times tables, and carry on as I suggest below. Most instructors, however, won’t have that ideal situation. Still, many adult students have children in their lives who might be learning the times tables, or struggling with other math because they aren’t fluent or confident in their ability to remember the tables. Adults might be willing to learn a new method to help those kids.

You will meet resistance

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A Math Book That Reads Like a Novel

A Math Book That Reads Like a Novel

I think of my comic as a math book for kids who like to read. It has all the elements of a novel–

Characters with strengths and weaknesses
A quest
A super hero
Conflict

Like any good quest, the characters find more than they bargained for. They learn about themselves and each other; they develop strength from bravely confronting obstacles, and come home again more confident to take on whatever life holds for them.

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Math Strategies in Context

Math Strategies in Context

A student demonstrates that 1/2 = 6/12, 3/6, 2/4 and 5/10

“EXPLAIN HOW YOU WOULD TEACH YOUR LEARNERS PLACE VALUE” and “Explain in detail how you teach ABET level 1 learners fractions” are two recent requests from readers of this blog. (ABET stands for “Adult Basic Education and Training” and is a term used in South Africa as well as other places.) Continue reading

“Afraid” to Teach Numeracy

“Afraid” to Teach Numeracy

scaredA news item by the BBC has led many viewers to my blog in recent days. According to a recent report, primary teachers in Great Britain are scared of math, which results in poor math teaching.

I can’t say much about primary teachers, especially in Great Britain, but in 2006 I consulted with about 100 teachers of adult numeracy, GED and Adult Basic Education math classes (whole numbers through algebra) about bringing their teaching practices into line with research findings. I didn’t find them scared of math, but I did find specific barriers that prevented them from improving their teaching practice. (You will find a fuller description of my study in the introduction to Changing the Way We Teach Math.)

As a basis for discussion with these math instructors, I used principles from “Instructional Strategies for Teaching Adult Numeracy Skills” by Lynda Ginsburg and Iddo Gal. They include strategies such as determining what learners know before beginning instruction on a topic; looking at learners’ attitudes about math; using manipulatives; developing skills in estimation and Continue reading

Fractions on Your Feet

Fractions on Your Feet

When students can match 1/4 with 25% with .25, you know they have some understanding of the value of each.

When they go on to the much more difficult matching of 79/1000 with 7.9% and .079, you know their understanding has deepened.

When you ask for an explanation of their work and they don’t start and end with “Move the decimal to the left two spaces,” you know they are on to something!

https://katenonesuch.com/2012/10/11/walking-and-talking-math/

Here’s a social math activity that extends the skill practice exercises in the workbook and online. A fuller explanation and all materials needed can be found on page 92 here in Changing the Way We Teach Math. Continue reading

Human Digits

Human Digits

digitsPick a digit. Pick your favorite digit–any one you want, from the pile on the table.” That’s how the “human digits” activity starts. It’s another social math activity, this one to teach place value, and to practice reading big numbers.

Make a Safer Space

I know I’m going to ask people to get themselves into groups, and some people will hang back and wait to be invited to join a group, which is stressful, and others will be nervous about being on their feet and not knowing what I have in store for them. So I put some energy into making the space more comfortable for everyone. Continue reading

Make Math Social

Make Math Social

This lovely video shows Elana Feder and her GED class doing a social math activity about Positive and Negative Numbers.

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Yahtzee

Yahtzee

We rarely know how far our work goes, but once I got a glimpse—

I was working with some parents on producing a manual of family math activities (Family Math Fun!). We met twice a week for 11 weeks.

Jeannie (not her real name) only came to the first session, where I showed the group how to play Yahtzee, and gave them all dice and score cards to take home. We played a few rounds so that everyone got familiar with the game.

As the project came to a close a few months later, I asked all the participants to come in for a final interview, and Jeannie was happy to come.

Since she had attended only one session, I did not expect her to have got much benefit from the group, but I simply asked my first question, “Has coming to this group made any changes in your life?” She answered with a decisive yes.

She said that she and her husband got along better, as did the kids. “We have better communication. I see my daughters helping each other with school math by using a ruler or calendar, explaining, not just giving the answer.”

I asked what had made the change. Continue reading