## Sunday, October 28, 2012

### Multiplication Mastery Madness!

(If you haven't noticed, along with my color coding obsession, I also have a small affinity for alliterative titles.)

The past few weeks, we have been hitting multiplication hard!  Our school is focusing a lot on mathematical computational fluency, so it is a main focus area for us this year (and last year).  While I firmly believe that computational fluency is a cornerstone for success in other mathematical concepts, I also do my best to keep the learning fun and engaging.

 Ways to Show Multiplication Anchor Chart
I work with kids who, for the most part, already know their facts, so at this point, they are working on memorization and automaticity.  We always review several ways to show multiplication on an anchor chart.

Along with fact practice, we are honing in on problem solving skills. In come task cards!  I give students a small period of time each day (oftentimes during math workshop rotations) to work on task cards, and they love it.  Over the years, I have created many, many multiplication task cards covering a wide variety of skills.

We always start with the array task cards, which are incredibly popular among my kids, no matter their level of understanding is.  In fourth grade, we have also been working on factors and multiples, so of course, I have a set of those as well.  I also have them use building equations task cards and 2 different problem solving sets.  All of these task cards are in my Multiplication Task Card Bundle.   I use them EVERY year, and they are a lifesaver during our multiplication unit math rotations!

All of the task cards have answer keys and recording sheets, so I don't usually do any grading of the task cards unless I'm using it as an assessment grade.  They check their task cards with a partner when they complete them (they DO have to ask me for the answer key and show me their completed recording sheet before they get it).  Any problems that are incorrect, they highlight, find their mistake, then explain and fix their mistake on the back of the paper.  *I don't recommend skipping the explaining step! I always make them explain their errors, rather than just identify and fix because it shows me that they truly understand what they did wrong, and maybe, just maybe, will prevent it from happening again.*

On that same note, another multiplication activity I do with my students is have them grade a quiz (notice on the quiz below, they are actually grading "Selena Gomez's quiz").  They have to find and explain her errors and redo the problem correctly.  Who would have thought a teacher's job could be so incredibly fun for kids?!

I teach upper grades, so I do move on to teaching multi-digit multiplication.  DUN, DUN, DUN! It is such a tricky, monotonous topic for students to learn!

We make a foldable that originates from the wonderful, wonderful Rundee's Room and her Interactive Math Journals.  I also turned the foldable into an anchor chart, and made some strategy posters to hang in the room permanently to show some different multiplication strategies (You can download the posters free at my TpT Store).

 A look inside our multi-digit multiplication foldables.
 Multi-Digit Multiplication Strategies Foldable.
The inside of the foldables show exactly what is on my anchor chart.

 Multiplication Strategy Posters

 Multi-Digit Multiplication Anchor Chart
As we are working on multi-digit multiplication, I like to start the math block with a few multi-digit multiplication task cards on the document camera.  I made two different sets, a blue and a red (color coding!) for two different levels of students.  The red set requires the students to do just one multi-digit multiplication problem.  The blue set requires the students to do the same problem, but with at least one more step, so it becomes a multi-step, multi-digit multiplication problem.  (Let me tell you...I created and solved every one of these for the answer key, and some of them are tricky, but what kid doesn't love--and need--a brain stretch every once in a while?)  Some teachers have also told me that they have all of the kids complete the red cards first, then move on to the blue cards, and some use them for enrichment and practice during math workshop.  Either way, the kids have really loved having these in class.

I was so tired of worksheet after worksheet with plain multiplication facts, and I really wanted the kids to have more real-world application of multiplication.  I decided to create a multiplication project to go with the task cards.  Kids have gone crazy for this, and they don't even realize that they are doing an enormous number of multi-digit multiplication problems.  I assigned one of the pages for homework one night and I heard a chorus of "awww, why can't we do TWO pages!?"  I am not kidding, and I'm 99% sure they weren't being sarcastic. :)  The premise of the project is that the students are in charge of all the buying for a new resort, so they are completing a "Resort Report."  As it turns out, there is A LOT of multiplication that goes into this!

I have recently updated The Resort Report to be differentiated!  Now it's suitable for all levels of students.

 A look into one student's work on Resort Report.

For this group, I had us all do the first two pages together so that we would all have the same numbers, and we would all be able to check our work together. (When I updated it, I made a version where you would ALL have the same numbers).  Same as with the task cards,  if they make a mistake, they are in charge of finding the mistake, fixing, and explaining it.  This project does take a few days to complete, but there are also extension projects and questions at the end that students could take home or complete if they finish early.

For students who have cruised through the unit, or for a homework project, I also have this Multiplication and Division Choice Board that I use.    You can adapt it to single digit or multi-digit.

One more of the activities we do for many units, including multiplication, is error analysis.  It is similar to the idea of the Selena Gomez quiz, with kids finding and correcting errors.  These error analysis sheets are challenging, and the perfect enrichment for kids who have already mastered multi-digit multiplication!

 Multi-Digit Multiplication Error Analysis

At the end of our unit, I give an assessment to evaluate all of the material we have gone over.  I have the quiz on TpT for a FREE download.  Download it here.

Next week, we are moving on to patterning and functions for a week or two, then on to multiplying and dividing decimals.  I have some fun activities up my sleeve, so I'm hoping the kids enjoy them.