Making Multiplication Masters!

Every year my students come to me at vastly different skill levels for multiplication. This year I have students from every point on the spectrum. I have a couple of students that don't seem to understand the concept of multiplication not knowing their zero and one facts. I also have one student that already knows how to successfully multiply two digit numbers using multiple strategies including the algorithm. (Go her!!!)

Those of you that teach in grades 3-5 and above know how VITAL knowing their multiplication facts are. Really, they need to know them for pretty much every concept for the rest of their schooling and life. Every year I try in vain to express to students and parents alike how important these facts are, and I get to most of them. Every year I have used flashcards to study facts, but I have noticed that students only seem to "practice" the ones they already know.

This year I have a new plan. Last week I had students come to my small group table 3-4 at a time. We talked about what a multiplication table was and how to use it. After I was sure that they knew how to use the table I gave them a blank one. I asked students to fill in the facts that they knew, not the facts that they could figure out. My goal is complete automaticity, so I only wanted the facts that were automatic.

I watched them carefully to make sure that they were not counting things out, but only filling in the ones that were automatic.

After they began to slow down, or said they were done I thanked them and took their chart. I checked the facts that they completed for accuracy and then created flashcards for each of the facts that they didn't know.

The next day each student was given their set of "personal flashcards" and a complete multiplication chart. It was their task to find the answer to each fact and write it on the back of the card. When they completed this task they brought them to me to check.

These cards are now their personal flashcards. They stay in their home-school communication binder so that they can use them to practice at home and at school. Most students have about fifteen facts that they need to study. Some have none, and some have all the facts. This really is a completely differentiated activity for each and every student suited to their exact needs.

Every day I will ask a student or two to bring their flashcards to me and I will quiz them over their own personal facts. Once students gain automaticity with a fact it will be removed from their set so that they can concentrate on other facts. Once they have gained automaticity with all their facts we will have a celebration!

Now, I am thinking this is going to work well with my students that need more practice. In fact I have already received some pretty awesome feedback from parents about the personal flashcards, because flashcards are something that parents know what to do with. They know that they can play games with them or just straight quiz their children. There is no prep necessary, and the results are easy to see. I have had one parent tell me that it makes them and their student feel successful as they see their gains. Really, what more could I ask for?

Finally, I do have a student or two who are already Multiplication Masters. I am not going to make them practice facts that they already know. Instead, I will have them using their facts using an independent project.

I have a TicTacToe Choice board for multiplication that students can complete independently. It gives them the choice of what activities they would like to complete and how to present them. Again, it is completely differentiated and independent so I am free to work with other students.

My goal for this year is to have every student gain complete automaticity with their multiplication facts. I know that these strategies will help us get on our way!


  1. This sounds amazing! I can't believe how many of my kids don't know their facts, but this will help me narrow it down to better suit their needs! Thanks for the idea!

  2. We are a week in, and already I have seen huge improvements!


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