Teaching multiplication facts is not often practiced in middle school. Do middle school students need to have their multiplication facts memorized?
Regardless of your answer, I think most math teachers would agree that multiplication fluency helps students see patterns, relationships, and supports more complex mathematical processes. If you are covering middle school standards, you don’t have a lot of time to devote to teaching or reteaching multiplication, but there are ways to support your students without adding too much work to your already heavy workload.
There are so many websites and apps devoted to practicing multiplication facts. Check out some of our recommendations down below.
However, if you just assign these to students with zero direction or instruction, chances are their fluency won’t improve. If these students have made it to middle school without mastering multiplication facts, then just giving them more of the same probably won’t move the needle to mastery.
Drill and kill is not known to improve fluency. One of the practices I took part in was printing a multiplication chart off for every student to put inside their math folder. For students who needed it, they had it there to use. I wanted my students to access the grade-level content, and if they could do that with a multiplication chart, then wonderful!
Brittany, from Mix and Math, says this about multiplication charts, and I whole-heartedly agree: “Giving students no supports to access grade-level work while they are still working to build their fluency with multiplication would be like sending the patient home from the hospital to heal without crutches. We want students to have some way to work with more advanced math concepts, even though they aren’t where we’d like them to be with multiplication yet. Consider giving students partially filled multiplication charts so that they are only using them for facts that they personally struggle with.”
I grabbed a free, colorful multiplication chart from Hannah at Math, Kids, and Chaos.
Capitalize on Friendly Facts
Generally speaking, students who haven’t mastered all of their multiplication facts usually have mastered their 0s, 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s. These facts are actually a hop-skip-and-a-jump from facts like their 6s and 9s.
Teaching 6 Times Tables
Let’s take 6×6. If a student can solve 5×6=30, then adding another group of 6 will help students get to 36. Students need a solid understanding that 5×6 means 5 groups of 6 and that 6×6 would mean to add another group of 6 to 30.
Teaching 9 Times Tables
While I learned my 9 times tables by using the finger trick, I think using your 10s times table is actually best! Take 9×7. 10×7=70 which means 10 groups of 7 is 70; 9 groups of 7 would be 1 group of 7 less than 70. 70-7=63.
When To Implement Multiplication Practice
This can be tough because there are so many other standards to devote time to. So when do you devote time teaching multiplication fact fluency?
- Beginning of the school year warm ups – provide students with some multiplication facts practice via a simple Mad Minute style worksheet or a blank or partially blank multiplication chart. This strategy works because students are usually still easing back into math after a long summer, so every student will benefit. You can walk around and gauge which students will need extra support.
- Stations – One of the ways to have stations that make planning as brainless as possible is to have one station always devoted to some type of fact fluency. I love Math Dash Ninjas for this because it is super engaging for students and you can easily differentiate the type of fact fluency that students are practicing.
- Lastly, Fact Fridays is a great way to use 10 minutes of class practicing multiplication fact fluency. Kahoot or Quizziz have so many prebuilt games devoted to fact practice.
- Intervention Class – If multiplication fact fluency is something the majority of your intervention students struggle with, then I highly recommend diving deep into multiplication concepts at the beginning of the school year. How does one do that? First I would read this post and watch this video on Subitizing Cards where you can also grab a free download.
Websites and Apps for Multiplication Practice
These websites were recommended in our Facebook Group – Maneuvering the Middle VIPs.
- Reflex Math – Requires student logins, but the program is adaptive and engaging.
- Xtra Math – Requires student logins, but you can sign up to receive weekly progress reports of student progress.
- Transum Tablemaster – Free and requires no login. Practice is specific to one set of facts at a time. No mixed practice.
Teaching multiplication facts an be tricky! How do you improve multiplication fluency with your middle school students?