Effective Math Practice

Lately I have been noticing a gap in my elementary-level students' math skills. Third graders who are learning division are not yet comfortable enough with their multiplication facts to be able to recognize the relationships in a fact family. Fifth graders who are working on complex word problems get frustrated and overwhelmed when they get stuck on a multiplication or division fact.

For example, when a student sees a problem like 6 ÷ 2, she is typically able to recognize that the 3 is missing because she is familiar with 3 X 2 = 6. However, when she sees a problem like 32 ÷ 8, she immediately feels overwhelmed because she cannot answer the related multiplication sentence of ? X 8 = 32. The problem 2 X 3 has become intuitive, whereas 4 X 8 has not. 

Multiplication and division facts and fact families are crucial as they serve as a major building block in future math skills, such as perimeter and area, multi-step word problems, and geometry. If your child is struggling with one of those aforementioned areas, then chances are, her basic math skills may not be as sharp as they need to be. 

Good news: there is help! Think past flash cards and mad minute drills and introduce your technologically-savy student to some excellent websites and apps. 

*** Improvement requires practice and consistency. ***

I highly recommend the IXL site. It is membership only and costs $9.95 a month or $79 a year. It is WORTH it. The students who I work with who consistently practice on IXL have razor sharp skills and a very clear understanding of math topics.

In terms of apps, I suggest you check out this great selection of math apps for grades K-2 and grades 3-5

Finally, I'd like to suggest addition & subtraction,  multiplication & division, or fractions & percents bingo. It goes back to the old-fashioned way of drilling, but adds a level of competition, which drives kids to WIN!