This afternoon we worked a little bit on mental math strategies for multiplication and how multiplication is connected to division. We had some big dice that I found at the dollar store and I gave each child one. They rolled it once for the first factor of a multiplication equation and again for a second product. The example I rolled was 6 x 4 which is one that many of the students do not know by memory so I took the opportunity to ask the students how they could figure it out without drawing or manipulatives - to do it "in their head".

The suggestions from students included: switch it so it's 4x6 instead, count by 6s and count by 4s. This made me realize that with all the work we've been doing with decomposition of numbers in terms of addition and subtraction, the students weren't thinking this way for multiplication. I asked them if there was another fact with groups of four that they knew already and most acknowledged that they knew 2x4 and 3x4. I asked them if they could think of way to use what they already knew to solve 6x4. It was interesting. The students who have already "memorized their times tables" couldn't seem to go there and many of the other students seemed unsure of what I was asking. I decided to do a "math aloud" for them and said, as I drew on the chart stand, " Well, I know 3 x 4 i 12. 3 is half of 6. So 12 is half of what 6x4 would be so if I double 12 I have the answer for 6x4 which is 24." Some puzzled looks so I did another example. What I should have done is actually modeled this better with a diagram or some blocks on the carpet. We'll have to do this again. I had the students do 5-10 multiplication equations using the dice and record them in their math notebooks.

The next thing we did was work on the connection between multiplication and division. We went back to 6x4=24 and I asked the students to think about a division equation that was related to it. Some students knew right away that they 24 divided by 4 would equal 6 or 24 divided by 6 would equal 4. We did a few examples together and I used my hands to try and show how we were adding up groups for multiplication and then doing the opposite with division, but using the same numbers. Again, may of the student weren't completely sure of what we were doing symbollically so I will need to do some more visual work on this again. Some students were able to record division equations to go with their multiplication equations.

The students could then choose one of the multiplication apps on the iPads to practice using different strategies to figure out multiplication facts.

We're going to need to keep re-visiting multiplication and division in different ways a little bit each week I think.

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