In my review of Multiplication.com, the website created by Alan Walker, I said I would begin this program with a student who is far below grade level in math. In case you haven’t read the review of that site, Walker’s approach provides a visual image and rhyming words related to each numeral. The images are then combined in a funny or interesting story using multiplication facts (so 2 x 3 = six has a related story called “shoe x tree equals sticks”).
The program begins with an assessment of multiplication facts and a review of the commutative property of multiplication. My student, Khalil, does not recall any multiplication facts. He remembers the zero property of multiplication about 50% of the time, when prompted. He does not remember the identity property (multiplying by one) without prompting. Khalil cannot identify the commutative property by name but understands the concept.
Here’s what happened: First, I showed Khalil all the facts he must learn, using a multiplication table provided in the teacher’s manual. The facts for zero and one are grayed out, as are all the other repeated facts (due to the commutative property). I had already highlighted a chart in a similar fashion but had not thought about eliminating the repeated facts. When Khalil saw how few facts he had to learn, he was much more encouraged than when looking at the chart I had created! Khalil memorized the associated names and pictures for the numerals in less than ten minutes. He was not stressed by the process (as he is with a lot of math). In fact, he really enjoyed it because he likes word play. The only “sticking” point was that the number six seems to be associated with both “sticks” and “chick.” I think “sticks” is a preferable rhyme, but in chicks are characters in some stories. Khalil could play games with the memorized associations immediately. He has only had one lesson, and only got to one multiplication fact, but he memorized that very quickly (and enjoyed saying it).
The author recommends daily sessions of 5 to 10 minutes per day. He also suggests careful review if you have to add more content in one session. I work with Khalil twice a week, so I will have to cover a lot of ground per session. On the other hand, Khalil can practice these stories on the website at home, too. Both Khalil and I are excited about this process and I look forward to more positive updates!