I started MATH station rotations to help my students learn and master their multiplication facts over the coming weeks and I just HAVE to share how it is working with you! I know a lot of teachers want to implement stations or small groups in their math lessons so I am thrilled that I have found something that works for me. I hope this series of posts will help spark some ideas on how YOU can manage them for YOU and your class!
[just a friendly reminder, my math stations are all about multiplication right now but my wheels are already spinning on how I can implement this system year round with other concepts and unit studies in math! :)]
Today's post in the series is all about how I BEGIN teaching multiplication to help my students build a strong foundation for the concept before they begin working towards fact mastery. I will be posting more in the near future about how I set up, introduced, and implemented my math station rotations.
NOTE: The basis of teaching multiplication like the following (for 2 or 3 days) is to allow students to simply see how numbers work together without stressing multiplication fact memorization (yet!)
So, to begin I gave my students 4 small plastic cups (preferably clear so they can see through to the manipulatives). One cup was for manipulatives and the others were for the "groups" we would build. Each student also received some chocolate candies. I bought packets of Sixlets for Valentine's Day at the Dollar Tree. About $5 was enough for the whole class. (you could also use: dried beans, popcorn kernels, ones cubes, mini marshmallows, basically anything small you can buy large quantities of inexpensively or may already have on hand.) **I stressed to them that these items were MATH TOOLS for the lesson and would later become treats. If they tried to eat them before we finished, they wouldn't get any at the end... they were totally okay with that when they knew they would get to eat them and did fantastically through the lesson!
Here's what that looked like:
I ran out of cups for the candies to be kept in, so some clear plates subbed in nicely as well!
Next, in our Interactive Math Notebooks, we set up columns to record our information as we worked. (any math log, journal, or recording page you have would work well. I prefer they keep any hands-pn activity we do all in one place, which is our INB).
The column on the left was labeled CUPS, the middle column CANDIES, and the last column TOTAL. We wrote the number 2 thirteen times down the far left column for the first round since the number of cups would not be changing. Then, as we added one candy to each cup, we recorded how many candies were in EACH CUP under the CANDIES column, and then the TOTAL number of candies in ALL of the cups in the TOTAL column. I told them that they were to simply "soak in" the numbers and any patterns that they noticed, but could NOT say anything about what they thought we were doing. Basically, I didn't want them to scream "This is multiplication!" because I knew some students wouldn't understand how it connected just yet. I just wanted them to see how the numbers worked together and to draw their own conclusions and make their own connections.
I did it along with them on the overhead (it's all the technology I have... a SmartBoard would work much better!) Here, we are working with 3 cups and putting candies in each cup. We did this after we worked through all of the 2s. I also stressed that they would not just work ahead if they saw a pattern. They HAD to stay with me and work through each and every step. I wanted to be certain that everyone was seeing the number grow and not just following a basic pattern.
I teach facts all the way through 12x12, so we started with 0 in each cup and went all the way to 12 in each cup, tracking the totals once again. One student (who usually struggles in math) said, "It's counting by 3s!" I was so excited she said that. I could tell she was already making connections and building a great foundation for multiplication!
On the next day, I gave my students a large quantity of small, fun-shaped erasers I bought in the Target dollar spot. I bought SEVERAL packs, but each pack had about 60 erasers in it, so it was a great deal and they loooooveed them! Definitely worth it! (You could also use: dried beans, popcorn kernels, ones cubes, mini marshmallows, basically anything small you can buy large quantities of inexpensively or may already have on hand).
Instead of using cups, I made mats with circles to show equal groups because I would be talking about how we were making all of the groups to have the same amount (or equal) and would be connecting it to multiplication (which I had many excited girls wanting to share already!)
Here's what the mats looked like:
I laminated these and gave one to each student. I plan to reuse them next year! I also made one with 6 circles so I could teach as many as my students needed to reach understanding of the concept.
We again set up our columns in the same way as the day before. Since they had already seen this, it was a little easier and a bit quicker to get everyone set up and ready to go! We changed the CANDIES column to ERASERS and kept the rest the same.
Again, we recorded as we worked making equal groups.
For some reason, I didn't make mats with 4 circles so instead we drew them into our notebooks!
You could easily do this for any number if you wanted to save on resources!
When we got to a point that students were beginning to make stronger connections, I then explained that multiplication is simply repeated addition. On the overhead where I had a transparency of these same circles and was working along with them (again a SmartBoard would be so handy!) I wrote in plus signs between the circles and wrote the number of erasers into the circle with the erasers to show them how the equal groups were the same as repeated addition, which is the same as multiplication.
You can see in the one robot picture about with the 4 equal groups drawn onto the notebook page that one student wrote in the x and = signs between the columns. I introduced the day's lesson, telling them that we were learning multiplication. I said that first for only these 2 reasons:
1. The class was anticipating learning this ALL year!
2. I thought about 6 of my girls were going to EXPLODE if I didn't let them say what we had done the day before! They couldn't hold it in.
However, I wouldn't have typically explained that it was multiplication BEFORE we started the activityt. I have a high achieving group this year, so I felt comfortable doing so.
You may want to repeat these lessons for several days with students who need remediation before you introduce this as multiplication. Once you do, you may still feel you need to do this, especially for larger numbers. Just beware: you need a LOT of manipulatives!
Students got plates with the erasers. I piled a bunch onto one plate, and they shared with a neighbor. It saved on time to do it this way!
These erasers WERE A HIT! Definitely a great investment! They kept everyone so engaged throughout the lesson. You can see this student on the bottom of this picture is an organizer in the making! Another student that was using this was organizing them with different animals in each circle.. too cute!
So, that's how I began to introduce the concept. When I worked as a Title One Math & Reading coach, a teacher I worked with did lessons similar to this. I adopted it and made it into my own to work for my style as well as my students each year. Over the years I have done this with third graders, I have found that it is a great way to slowly introduce the concept so that students have a strong understanding of multiplication in it's simplest form. It also helps them see other key concepts before they are taught, especially multiples. They are skip counting and making the factors and products before they ever learn those vocabulary terms, which build familiarity for the future.
If you like these lessons, you can get all of this information plus all of the paperwork you need to implement this in my Multiplication Lesson Plans pack on TpT here! It includes 4-5 days worth of plans to help you successfully implement my method of introducing this big concept!
I'll be back soon with the next steps I took to continue to build their understanding as I also began to introduce our math station rotations!
I hope you got some ideas on implementation from this post to help your students build a strong foundation for multiplication!
Have a blessed evening!