Strategies for Teaching Multiplication

As a continuation of two previous posts, Addition Fact Strategies and Basic Subtraction Facts, now you will have a new resource for your binder!

There has been much development in how students learn their basic multiplication facts.  No longer should students memorize their facts but truly understand how there are number patterns in all they do.   Before you proceed with these strategies, students should be exposed to creating groups of things, they should practice skip counting, and learn to make arrays.

Multiplication Fact Strategies


Strategies for Basic Subtraction Facts

In a previous post, I wrote about and prepared reference sheets on how and in which order we as teachers should teach basic addition facts.  I have extended this to now include basic subtraction facts. 

Helping students acquire these skills will map out success for them in future years.  Print these out and keep them in your teacher binder for your reference.  We are always faced with students that have different learning experiences and even though you teach middle to higher grades you never know when you need to start right from the beginning!

Basic Subtraction Facts

Strategies for Basic Addition Facts

We are always struggling with moving our students along the learning continuum.  We have a wide array of curriculum to teach.  When it comes to Mathematics and the acquisition of this amazing subject, we must be able to decompose the facts and their strategies before we are able to teach it to our students.  We are skilled and have great knowledge but sometimes it is difficult to revert back down to the basics.  We must teach addition facts in their most simplest forms.  Studies show that students will be more successful when these basic addition facts are acquired in the proper order.  I have provided a quick description of each one with an example of how to demostrate and teach that fact.   Print it out (link below) and keep it in your teacher binder.  Even if you teach higher than grade 3, you never know when you will be teaching a student who has learning gaps that you will need to address.  Addition Fact Strategies


How “Open” are your Classroom Questions? Providing a Fertile Environment for Classroom Discourse

What is the difference between an open question and a closed question?  To put it simply, an open question allows room for discussion, growth, connections, and development; whereas a closed question points to one “correct” answer that the person asking the question hopes to hear.

Here’s a short clip featuring the awesome Lucy West* where she provides a brief intro regarding the types of questions used in classrooms:

According to Lucy West, based on a study of 500 classrooms in 5 countries (England, US, France, Russia, and India):

  • open questions only made up 10% of questioning exchanges in the classroom
  • 15% of the sample did not ask any open questions
  • probing by the teacher to encourage sustained and extended dialogue occurred in 11% of the classes
  • uptake questions (questions not on the lesson plan) only account for 4%
  • 43% of teachers did not use any such moves
  • pupil exchanges were short being on average 5 seconds and with 3 words or less 70% of the time

How to increase student capacity and discourse?  GET STUDENTS TO ANSWER ALL QUESTIONS IN A COMPLETE SENTENCE! This seems like such a simple concept, but it can make such a big difference.  I am definitely going to keep this in mind when trying to incorporate class discussions and discourse into my daily teaching.

Here’s a great resource found on Lucy West’s website that provides more information on Building An Environment for Talk

I especially love that part when Lucy West talks about students who ask questions that are not on “the plan” (uptake questions)! Isn’t it more important to have students immersed in rich discussions, rather than sticking to our lesson plans?  I think so.  If in doubt:

pretend lesson plan

Image source:


* I heard Lucy West speak at a conference my school board held a year ago.  She has a great website with tons of resources for teachers and this video provides great insights into robust dialogue with your students (just scroll down to the last video on that page).  The video is 86 minutes long (yes, I know) but it is so worthwhile to watch.

Helping Solve the Problem of Problem Solving

Students always have problems with communicating their thoughts, their steps in solving a mathematical problem and their findings.  I have found that using the G.R.A.S.S. method ensures students communicate all they are thinking.  This acronym helps them streamline their thoughts and organizes their plan of attack into smaller sub- sections.   When reading through their solution we, as educators, can quickly see their processes and their thoughts.

We have utilized this method in preparing students for EQAO (Ontario’s version of Standardized Testing). 


Here is a brief description of what the acronym G.R.A.S.S. stands for…

Given           Required            Analysis           Solution            Statement 

We have created a complete package for you!  Click on the picture and you will find a a complete description for the use of this method, a poster set for your classroom (anchor charts), a student response sheet (reproducible), and a sample problem with a response utilizing this method. 

We hope that this will be helpful for you and your students.

Our time is coming to an end!

What better way to end the year then with a timeline reflection – have your students reflect on the great school year! You can do this in so many different ways and for so many different reasons. Click on the attachment to read more about timelines!