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How To: Adjust Your Teaching Style to Your Students' Learning Style
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How To: Adjust Your Teaching Styles to Students' Learning Styles
How To: Develop as a Professional
How To: Implement Standards, Curriculum, and Assessment

Teaching a New Way to Multiply
Katherine McNeil

Many students with Learning Disabilities (LD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) have a difficult time with long-term memory. This becomes very evident in the area of Math. By the time they reach 5th or 6th grade many still can't remember certain multiplication facts.

I have been in classrooms as a behavior specialist observing students display increasingly inappropriate behavior in response to being forced once again to perform time tests on their multiplication tables. I asked the teacher why he felt they displayed these behaviors. His response was that they didn't want to do the work. I agreed with him. I then told him, "What if they just can't remember their math facts?" He replied, "They must if they are to be successful."

I disagree. I am one of those individuals who to this day can't remember my 6, 7, 8, or 9 times table multiplication facts. However, this does not mean we are dumb, lazy, or unmotivated by any means. It just means that we need a tool to help us. I have come up with a simple way to do these math facts using finger math. With practice it can be done quickly and privately. And I wish to emphasize that counting on one's fingers is not a deficit but a tool. I tell students if anyone makes fun of them or tries to get them to stop, to respond by telling them that it works for us; if they have a problem with it, they can walk away.

Here are some photos with the explanation on how to perform these simple calculations. I have had some teachers say it is just too much to remember, but if you give it some practice, you will be amazed. I have taught this to hundreds of students and teachers with great success. I have seen students learn how to use this tool and say, "Why couldn't someone teach me this before?"

STEP 1
Each finger represents a number

  • The thumb on both fingers is 6
  • The pointer finger or the first finger on both hands is 7 
  • The next finger on the hand is 8
  • The ring finger is 9 on both hands


STEP 2 
When a student needs to figure out a math fact that involves any one of these numbers he places the finger on one hand which represents one number against the finger on the other hand which would represent the other number. It does not matter which number goes first as long as both fingers that represent the numbers are pressed together. Here are some photos to help you visualize the process.

Here is the first example. The thumb on both fingers is 6

The pointer finger or the first finger on both hands is 7 

The next finger on the hand is 8

The ring finger is 9 on both hands.

A student wants to figure out what 7 X 7 is. He takes the two pointer fingers which represent 7 and presses them together. All fingers including the ones that are pressed together represent 10 apiece.

In this case you have the two pointer fingers and the two thumbs for a total of four fingers or 40.

Now you figure in all the fingers behind or in back of the fingers you have pressed together. Take the number of fingers on the left hand which is 3 and multiply with the ones on the right hand which is 3 and 

3 X 3 = 9

so 

40 + 9 = 49

7 X 7 = 49

Try it again with the middle finger which represents 8. 

8 X 8 

Press the two eight fingers together and count how many fingers or 10s you have from those pressed together towards your body. You should count 6 or 60. Then multiply the two fingers on each hand behind the two pressed together and you get 4. So 8 X 8 is 64.

The only hard one is 6 X 6 because it is the thumbs and the kids have to add 20 then multiply the balance of the fingers on each hand which are 4 (4 X 4) and add to 20. They do get the hang of it quickly.

Hang in there and try it because it really works.

 

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