Tes ROTW: Times table reasoning activities

Craig Barton
22nd April 2019

Develop students times table reasoning and depth skills using this multiplication activity by krisgreg30

What is it? 

I am one of those teachers who believes that knowledge of times tables is absolutely fundamental to a child’s success and enjoyment of mathematics. Without such knowledge readily available, the chance of grasping and thriving with concepts such as fractions, equations, negative numbers, and may other areas of mathematics are drastically reduced.

But knowing times tables by heart is not enough. We want our students to be flexible with the facts that they recall from memory. So, for example, if they know immediately that 7 x 6 = 42, what else do they know? What else can they do with that fact? Each page gives children a known fact about the 7 times table,  and then calculations where the numbers have been manipulated. There is a box where students can explain how to use the known fact to find the answer.

For example, the 7 x 6 page provides challenges such as:

3.5 x 6

7 x 0.6

60 x 700 … and so on

 

How can it be used? 

To get the most out of this resource, students need to know their times table facts. It is hard to be flexible with 7 x 6 if you are having to think hard and expend valuable working memory capacity trying to figure out what 7 x 6 is in the first place. There are lots of ways to achieve this. Drills are not popular with many teachers, but I think they can be made fun and are highly effective; numeracy ninjas and times table rockstars are things I have used in the past that students seem to respond well to.

Once those foundations are in place, challenging students to complete a page of this resource each lesson would be incredibly worthwhile. Students are likely to find it tricky at first, but the more they do, the more connections they spot, the more they understand, the better they will get, and the more flexible mathematicians they will become.

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