Meaningful Times Tables Practice

Thursday, 16 November 2017

At La Salle Education, we believe that pupils benefit enormously from having a deep understanding of multiplication and division facts, which can later be efficiently recalled for use in more complex problems.

A secure knowledge of times tables facts makes pupils able to engage in interesting mathematical problems without having to worry about working out basic facts first – these facts are part of the underlying mathematical grammar that pupils call upon to engage with mathematics throughout their learning and application of the subject.

But mathematics is not simply a list of facts to be remembered. At La Salle, we are interested in the interconnectedness of mathematical ideas. Most times tables practice is focused on simple rote learning and memorisation of the facts. This misses opportunities to build deeper understanding of multiplication and division and results in a superficial ability to simply regurgitate numbers. Our times tables app draws on variation theory to give multiple representations of multiplication facts, which builds more meaningful connections in pupils’ minds and gives a greater chance of the facts becoming embedded in the long-term memory.

Through a variety of representations and metaphors, the Complete Mathematics Times Tables app gives pupils a better chance to ‘meaning make’ than traditional times tables apps.

Representations and metaphors

The Complete Mathematics Times Tables app deliberately intertwines a variety of ways of looking at and thinking about multiplication and division (and their connections to addition). The app includes standard recall prompts

but also makes connections to multiplication grids

and introduces pupils to arrays

The app also includes a pinboard manipulative, which not only connects the tables facts to multiplication grids, but also draws on the metaphor of multiplication and division as a view of area

Why no timer?

Becoming mathematically literate is not a competitive sport, it is a fundamental basic right for all. Although we want all pupils to be able to quickly recall times tables facts and be able to work efficiently with a wide range of problems that draw on these facts, we believe that – at the point of learning and embedding – it is far more important to carefully consider the problems and metaphors and to build a deeper understanding through meaningful practice.

Suggested uses

The Complete Mathematics Times Tables app is ideal for use in the mathematics classroom, at home, on the bus or… well… anywhere! Pupils can use the app on any device with a web browser.

With daily use, pupils will achieve a very secure knowledge of times tables facts. More than this though: unlike traditional times tables apps, which focus purely on the list of facts, using the Complete Mathematics Times Tables app daily, pupils will acquire a deep understanding of why the facts are true.

The times tables app could be used during tutor time, with pupils setting the quiz at 50 questions and recording each day how they are improving and which multiplication facts they need to continue to work on. Just 10 minutes per day for all pupils will help to drive up pupils’ mathematical literacy across the school.

So, why not try the app today with your pupils and start a journey towards truly meaningful understanding of times tables rather than just fast regurgitation of meaningless numbers.

Visit the Complete Mathematics Times Tables app page now.

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