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# Multiplication Tables - Gone? - Page 2

Have you guys seen Wrap-ups? They are our car toys. My kids love them.
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 Originally Posted by Oriole Ugh.. Please do your daughter a favor and teach her multiplication tables... As a 6th grade math teacher, I can't tell you how frustrating it is to have kids spending time counting by 6 to get to 42 : I took classroom time to do it in middle school, and I personally think it is a ridiculous thing to have to do. They should have learned it in 3rd grade, right after they learned what multiplication means and how it works. This should not be happening!
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 Originally Posted by PatchChild another teacher here Please make her learn them! The argument for not teaching them at my school is that we have so much content to teach that we shouldn't "waste time" on memorization. They ask parents to work on them at home. All future math builds on this! Argh. Pet peeve, can you tell?
I have never ever been able to memorize my multiplication tables. Oh sure I MIGHT have been able to manage it for a test.. then it just fell out of my head later. I can't spell either. Same thing.
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 Originally Posted by aniT I have never ever been able to memorize my multiplication tables. Oh sure I MIGHT have been able to manage it for a test.. then it just fell out of my head later. I can't spell either. Same thing.
I love the Schoolhouse Rock songs for memorizing many of them, especially the 3 song, the 5 song, and the 8 song.

For other numbers, there are a few helpful ones:

The Sixes Song (Sung to the tune of "Home on the Range"

Six times one is six,
Six times two is twelve
Six times three, I know is eighteen.

Six times four's twenty-four
Six times five is thir-ty
Six times six is thirty-six.

Six sixes are true,
Six times seven I know's forty-two.
Six times eight's forty-eight
Six times nine's fifty-four
Why didn't I know that before?

************
Here is another song for the sevens, sung to the tune of "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain."

Seven, fourteen, twenty-one, and twenty-eight
Thirty-five and forty-two, it's really great.

Forty-nine and fifty-six
This is how I get my kicks,

Sixty-three and seventy,
That's all for me.

Enjoy!
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 Originally Posted by Meg Murry. No kidding! Isn't one of the virtues of school supposed to be that they teach children the fundamental bases of the knowledge they will use? Isn't the role of the parent supposed to be to reinforce those knowledge bases, provide support and time in which homework can be done, work as a partner with their child's teacher, et cetera, but not have to be compelled to fill in a crucial gap the school is not addressing? SO not fair.
Well, whatever. I figure a teacher's competitive advantage is going to be in teaching concepts and getting a kid to really understand how, as in this example, math WORKS. If you'd rather they skimp on concepts in favor of spending time on rote memorization, so that you can get out of any teaching function at home ... I guess that's OK for you. But don't complain when your kid ends up not really understanding the concepts behind the basic facts he or she has memorized.

School time is finite. So is parent time - but it's a lot easier to coach a kid through a bit of rote memorization than it is to get them to learn the concepts underpinning arithmatic (and higher level maths as well, of course).
I taught 3rd grade last year and my class absolutely works on memorizing their times tables. OP, does your school use Everyday Math? That program would does not teach basic facts seperately from other skills. (Which is why I'm glad I don't have to use it!) But no, times tables are NOT a thing of the past. They are still important!
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 Originally Posted by WNB Well, whatever. I figure a teacher's competitive advantage is going to be in teaching concepts and getting a kid to really understand how, as in this example, math WORKS. If you'd rather they skimp on concepts in favor of spending time on rote memorization, so that you can get out of any teaching function at home ... I guess that's OK for you. But don't complain when your kid ends up not really understanding the concepts behind the basic facts he or she has memorized. School time is finite. So is parent time - but it's a lot easier to coach a kid through a bit of rote memorization than it is to get them to learn the concepts underpinning arithmatic (and higher level maths as well, of course).
The problem is not in teaching how math works.
The problem is far more complex than that.

Part of the problem is that far too many math teachers, especially at the elementary level, do NOT understand "how math works" and therefore aren't particularly adept at teaching what they don't particularly understand.

Since many of them also now do not teach rote memorization, we now have far too many students who don't know either how math works or their multiplication tables.

Also, allow me to point out that what you're arguing is a false dichotomy: an effective math teacher CAN do both the logical understanding of an algorithmic function AND the times tables. As it stands, far too many teachers are doing neither one.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by WNB If you'd rather they skimp on concepts in favor of spending time on rote memorization, so that you can get out of any teaching function at home ... I guess that's OK for you.
Extremes have never lasted... Nor will math instruction that skips importance of basics. If such program is to be successful, it will have to be supplemented by another program that brings the basics back into the classroom, otherwise US will never climb out of embarassing mathophobia. (speaking from the outsider's perspective).

ROTE memory must be accompanied by UNDERSTANDING. If you are skipping on one or the other - I don't want my kid in your classroom. Whatever you teach my kid - teach them well... How about exploring one concept at a time until they have learned all there is about it, instead of jumping around, and "covering" material without really sinking in the teeth into it? True understanding of multiplication and division from every angle should be main topic in third grade calssroom. It's life, it's what they will use, and it includes memorizing the tables. There is plently of time for that (unless, of course you are trying to cover 50 other concepts that I will be reteaching them in 6th grade anyway, because they dont' remember any of it).

Teaching how math works does not mean skipping multiplication tables.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by WNB School time is finite. So is parent time - but it's a lot easier to coach a kid through a bit of rote memorization than it is to get them to learn the concepts underpinning arithmatic (and higher level maths as well, of course).
Basics should be taught at school. Not all parents are involved parents, not all parents will have time and skills to do it.

What are you doing in third grade if not leaning what multiplication and division is, and covering the basics within these concepts????
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Meg Murry. Part of the problem is that far too many math teachers, especially at the elementary level, do NOT understand "how math works" and therefore aren't particularly adept at teaching what they don't particularly understand. Since many of them also now do not teach rote memorization, we now have far too many students who don't know either how math works or their multiplication tables.
:
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Meg Murry. Also, allow me to point out that what you're arguing is a false dichotomy: an effective math teacher CAN do both the logical understanding of an algorithmic function AND the times tables. As it stands, far too many teachers are doing neither one.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by aniT I have never ever been able to memorize my multiplication tables. Oh sure I MIGHT have been able to manage it for a test.. then it just fell out of my head later. I can't spell either. Same thing.
I hope you are not suggesting that just because you struggle with spelling we should stop teaching kids how to write well, and to spell correctly?

Same goes for math... I respect people who struggle, but I don't understand the argument "I wasn't able to, so who cares if the rest of the kids are taught math facts..."
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Oriole I hope you are not suggesting that just because you struggle with spelling we should stop teaching kids how to write well, and to spell correctly? Same goes for math... I respect people who struggle, but I don't understand the argument "I wasn't able to, so who cares if the rest of the kids are taught math facts..."
Uhhhh.. I never said or implied any such thing.

I am saying that simply making kids memorize things will not have a lasting effect. You have to teach them how to do it. I was never taught any spelling rules or tricks. We were simply given words, told the write them 5x each and were expected to be able to spell them at the end of the week. Memorizing them only worked until the next list came along.

Same with math. Memorizing the times tables in third and fourth grade does not have a lasting effect on anyone I have ever meet. It is far more important that the kids know why 3X3=9 and how to get there than to simply spit out that 3X3=9.
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 Originally Posted by aniT Memorizing the times tables in third and fourth grade does not have a lasting effect on anyone I have ever meet. It is far more important that the kids know why 3X3=9 and how to get there than to simply spit out that 3X3=9.
I don't think anyone here is suggesting that we shouldn't explain to kids why math works. Beats me why it is always brought up. No one has stated here that rote memory should be one and only strategy in mathematics, and if you'd like to start a thread about the lack of understanding of math concepts in the US, where it starts and how to remedy - I'll be right there. This thread is about another kind of problem in math education.

I'm sure people can survive without memorizing time tables, but they can also survive without reading, and without knowing basics of chemistry, etc. etc. etc.

If we are to strive to provide the best education possible - then at least we should cover the basics (and yes, it does include understanding of why multiplication and division works, but it also includes times tables).
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Oriole I don't think anyone here is suggesting that we shouldn't explain to kids why math works. Beats me why it is always brought up. No one has stated here that rote memory should be one and only strategy in mathematics, and if you'd like to start a thread about the lack of understanding of math concepts in the US, where it starts and how to remedy - I'll be right there. This thread is about another kind of problem in math education. I'm sure people can survive without memorizing time tables, but they can also survive without reading, and without knowing basics of chemistry, etc. etc. etc. If we are to strive to provide the best education possible - then at least we should cover the basics (and yes, it does include understanding of why multiplication and division works, but it also includes times tables).
You are putting a lot of words in my mouth that I never said. I am not going to sit here and defend myself against you.

My original point being, most kids I know are never able to memorize the times tables. Teaching them how math works is more important than making them sit there and memorize something they are going to forget as soon as they memorize it anyway.

I just asked my 14 year old if she had her times tables memorized. She doesn't. As a matter of fact I had to tell her what they were then she laughed and said they have never used those ever. She is a TAG student with math and Science being her best subjects.

BTW, I don't think lack of memorization of times tables is equal to not being able to read.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by aniT Uhhhh.. I never said or implied any such thing. I am saying that simply making kids memorize things will not have a lasting effect. You have to teach them how to do it. I was never taught any spelling rules or tricks. We were simply given words, told the write them 5x each and were expected to be able to spell them at the end of the week. Memorizing them only worked until the next list came along. Same with math. Memorizing the times tables in third and fourth grade does not have a lasting effect on anyone I have ever meet. It is far more important that the kids know why 3X3=9 and how to get there than to simply spit out that 3X3=9.
What maybe you are not seeing is that learning a concept often happens in a sequence. Full, rich, complex understanding is like the tip of the pyramid, but that has to come LAST. What has to happen first is the foundation of the learning, which is the grunt work of the rote memorization.

Time and again, especially with logical disciplines like math and sentence diagramming, you need as a teacher to prepare that ground for those conceptual flashes, and the ground gets prepared by doing the grunt work.

The best analogy I can make is to Daniel-San doing the "wax on, wax off" maneuver in The Karate Kid. Initially, Daniel is given the cloth and told a specific way in which the wax on the car (and the paint on the fence, and the sealant on the deck) needs to be put on, but not WHY. Over and over and over he does this, not knowing why. He works his little Ralph Macchio butt off, still not knowing why, until these actions are ingrained in the very fiber of his being.

THEN and only then does Mr. Miyagi throw him a punch -- a punch which Daniel blocks with the "wax off" gesture he's done again and again. Then another -- which he blocks with "paint up" and "paint down."

And then the novice was enlightened.

With mathematics, to make the analogy clear, what worked pretty well for us was for my DD to do the "grunt work," the "wax on, wax off" of memorizing the multiplication tables. It can (and should!) be done in a fun way -- we like songs around here, courtesy of "Schoolhouse Rock" and the Internet -- to remember "One times eight is eight...two times eight is sixteen" and so on. Then we played with manipulatives, showing how one group of eight and another group of eight equaled sixteen, and so on. Then we did written problems with the aid of manipulatives, and finally just the written problems. Building up, you see, from the grunt work to the concrete representation, to the abstract.

Far too often, people undervalue the grunt work because it's "boring." It's not "interesting." It's not "fun." Well, it's the foundation of the building, and the person who puts in all the "fun" elements in a house and neglects the foundation finds they've built a piece of crud that falls down with the first wind. Same thing. It's all well and good to say, "Oh, I teach WHY 3x3=9," with the tone implying that one doesn't dirty one's hands with boring, blue-collar, grunt-work memorization, but very often in my experience, that leaves kids who aren't able to do the simplest of operations without a calculator. They might know why three times three is nine, but not how to get there without punching buttons.
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 Originally Posted by aniT You are putting a lot of words in my mouth that I never said. I am not going to sit here and defend myself against you. My original point being, most kids I know are never able to memorize the times tables.
Then the problem is with the teaching METHOD, not the teaching MATERIAL. Of all the things to teach, the crud that has to be memorized by rote is both the easiest and the most fun, in my experience -- you just have to make it that way.

Here's another stupid example of why it's easy and fun both. I was working with a friend of mine from Turkey who was studying for his U.S. citizenship test, so he was asking me all kinds of questions, quizzing me about how many senators there were, what the branches of government were, and so on.

On a whim, I bet him five bucks that I could recite the entire preamble to the Constitution. He covered my eyes with his hands (in case I was somehow cheating and looking at something) and I whipped it right out of my head even though I'd not thought of it in years.

My genius secret? "Schoolhouse Rock." They didn't have that in Istanbul.

TWO MINUTES spent listening to "We the people..." a bunch of times when I was a little kid when they showed it between Saturday cartoons, and I remembered it forever. How about the alphabet song? Anyone have a problem wondering what comes after X? Almost any darn thing to be memorized can be made into a stupid song or a mnemonic device and it's FUN. Again, the problem's not with the material, but the method.
I have never heard schoolhouse rock for math. I remember conjunction junction, I'm just a bill and ermm that is it off the top of my head. I don't remember anything about the constitution.

It's good that schoolhouse rock worked for you, and your children. But it doesn't work for everyone.

I am not saying people should not memorize the multiplication tables, what I am saying however is that in my experience, that information is not retained by most people.
I knew the "principle" of times tables in 3rd grade...it's repeat addition. Pretty easy to explain. However, I was not required to memorize it because it was supposed to be damaging to my self-esteem to learn by rote (what the teacher told my mother, I kid you not!) I spent \$1500 and two years of my college life making up for the lack. It is very hard to add long streams of numbers in your head quickly unless you just happen to know that 9 added 12 times equals whatever (no, I still don't now them all. just enough to get by) However, i too can recite the preamble without hesitation (my seventh grade teacher insisted we learn it) or tell you the Algebra order of operations (memorized in 9th grade)
Quote:
 Originally Posted by aniT I am not saying people should not memorize the multiplication tables, what I am saying however is that in my experience, that information is not retained by most people.
I'm not sure I understand your argument. Most people don't quote Shakespear on a daily basis, most people don't speak two languages, most people don't look up how many electrons in a given atom, does that mean we need to stop teaching those things at school?

I am not trying to put words in your mouth, my statements are generalized, and I am only replying here to make a point that math facts are needed and are important part of math instruction in early grades.

I would like my child to be well-rounded, well-read individual. It is up to me to go above and beyond in his/her education, and it is up to the school system to teach the basics at the very least.

I am not sure where you live, but growing up outside of US multiplication tables were a part of "common knowledge", people in other countries don't need calculators to figure out what 5 x 9 is, nor do they need to add 9 five times in their head. I find it sad that living here it is unusual for someone to be independent of technology to do basic operations, and that it is fought and defended in public schools.

If a child is in high level mathematics course and doesn't know basic multiplication facts - I will doubt how rigorous that course is, once again, when I came as a High School student to the US the level of mathematics was laughable, we were doing things in 12th grade what I did in 5th grade.
It is imporssible to change that culture unless we decide that basics are important, as well as understanding of math concepts. You can't sacrifice one or the other if we are to provide math education that is compatible with the rest of the world.

Balance is the key: rote memory + concepts. If the program is good, it will naturally dive into deeper concepts as years go on, and will shy away from rote memorization, however, mathematics will always have a set of formulas that one will have to memorize. Does it mean that teachers should not explain to the kids how those formulas are derived? NO, kids must understand why mathematics works the way it does. At the same time it simply doesn't make sense to derive each smallest formula if you are working on a huge problem. Nor does it make sense to use multiplication chart if you are in 10th grade, imho.
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 Originally Posted by Oriole I am not sure where you live, but growing up outside of US multiplication tables were a part of "common knowledge", people in other countries don't need calculators to figure out what 5 x 9 is, nor do they need to add 9 five times in their head. I find it sad that living here it is unusual for someone to be independent of technology to do basic operations, and that it is fought and defended in public schools.
This is a good point: This conversation simply wouldn't be taking place elsewhere in the world. [Well, with the possible exception of some areas of Canada -- some provinces tend to adopt US educational reforms 10 years down the road, just at evidence starts to come in that they are ineffective, or worse. I'm Canadian... so I'm not knocking Canada just for the fun of it. ] Yes, there are people who cannot memorize math facts, but the number is small, and accommodations can be made for them. Is it strange that I use math almost every day? Or do I use math because I can, and wouldn't see the need if I couldn't?
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 Originally Posted by NoHiddenFees This conversation simply wouldn't be taking place elsewhere in the world.

: And that's a shame... We can do much better.
Excellent points Oriole!

I taught 3rd grade at a private school and after making sure the children understood the concepts behind mult and division, we asked them to memorize the tables and practice with their families for reinforcement.
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