One of my favorite parts about teaching math (and multiplication specifically) is all of the amazing patterns and connections from one thing to the next. When I first started teaching I would to preach these patterns to my students. They thought they were cool, but that was about all. One day a student in my class saw a pattern I hadn’t seen before, and I realized that it has WAY more meaning if they discover the connections themselves. Now, when THEY discover the patterns/connections it feels even more amazing, not to mention the fact that it sticks in their minds.
My students finally connected with a multiplication concept today. We are at the beginning stages of teaching multiplication, so the whole thing is a little mind blowing to them. They learned to multiply with repeated addition, equal groups, arrays, and with using a number line. I noticed that they didn’t seem to understand how they were all related.
So I sat them down with a blank piece of paper with the words: “Multiplication: It’s all related!” I asked them to see if they could find how each thing I put on the chart was related. I didn’t speak as I put up each one, one at a time.
The moment came when I got to the third one…arrays…and placed each square up (in rows of 5). I heard a few “oh’s!” and hands flew up in the air. Then they started to predict what my number line was going to do (I drew it out first before the hops-again not even saying a word!). Seeing them predict meant that many of them were catching on to how they are all connected. At the end I asked them what they thought the multiplication fact was, and the answer was shouted to me by 26 children.
“5 times 3!”