As some of you have read, I've found some great freelance writing work over the summer writing math content. Without going into too much detail, I'm one of two writers breaking down middle and high school math content into basics. As I go through topic after topic, one thing is glaringly obvious-- a kid who doesn't know his times tables COLD is in some serious trouble all the way down the road!!!!! I can not BELIEVE the number of times I've typed "times tables" over the past few days!!!!!

Yes, that is so frustrating. I remember when we used to memorize them in like 3rd grade or something. It boggles my mind when 6th graders don't have it down.

I completely agree!!! The other thing that I find makes the difference between my Grade 9 students succeeding or struggling is understanding the concept of fractions. I don't know how many times I've had students ask me, while looking at a problem with a fraction in it "Madame, I can't tell the difference...is that a fraction or is that division?"

I struggle every year trying to get my children to learn their math facts. We depend on help at home because we just can't spend month after month working on them in school. We have a scripted curriculum to follow and we have no choice but to move on. Unfortunately, help at home is not very forthcoming so, year after year, the children do not learn their facts and then all you middle school and high school teachers suffer, as you have said. I would love some suggestions so this problem doesn't keep reoccurring.

I wish I knew. Because, of course, you're right. We can teach, we can explain, we can lay it all out. But we can't study for our students. They have to do that themselves!

Yup, we plan on having ds work on them over the summer. I bought a Flash Master last summer that he used and I plan to do the same this summer. He got better at them but they're still not totally automatic with confidence so that's a summer goal. He'll be doing 6th grade math next year so I know that involves a good amount of multiplication and division.

I teach third grade and I keep stressing to my kids that they need to know their times tables to get through all of school. I have most of my kids who are great at them-but a few who don't practice at all. The hard part is that most of them don't practice over the summer, and forget all of them. I'm going to tell my kids what you said!

You are preaching to the choir. I remember using flash cards to learn times tables but they do not teach them as much. We used to have timed tests, etc to learn them backwards and forwards. I used to do this with my children at home. My students in class cannot multiply 2 x 2 without a calculator and this is senior physics honors students. I will often write the answer to a problem after working it in my head on the board and they are still trying to figure out how to use the calculator.

Herein lies the major problem....IMHO, that is! CALCULATORS! I have taught elementary for 35 years. Multiplication facts ARE being taught, starting at the end of 2nd grade with the big push occuring in 3rd, and heavy reinforcement in 4th and 5th. We even supplement with a great program called Rocket Math where the kids practice basic math facts every day for 10-15 minutes, working their way up through addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to the 12's....this is in grades 1st-5th. However, calculators are allowed beginning in 6th grade, and even on our state mandated tests, they are allowed to be used starting in 3rd grade. What you don't 'have' to use, you lose, plain and simple from my point of view. Now, fractions are another issue, I feel. We NEED to do a much better job of that, myself included!

Our kids can't use calculators until they hit trig. And we moved that into geometry, so they work without calculators all through Algebra- investment problems, work fractions, you name it. A particular pet peeve of mine

Alice, our kids have to use calculators earlier because the TAKS test has problems that must be solved with a graphing calculator. Because of that, their dependence on the calculator becomes even greater. They put it 6 X 5 !

At my school, our second graders are, at MINIMUM, solid with the 0, 1, 2, 5, and 10 multiplication facts. Many second graders go on to master the 3, 4, and 9 facts. We give kids 10 minutes every day in math class to practice their facts with a partner; in the first semester they practice addition facts, and in semester 2, they practice multiplication facts. We don't use flash cards, we use fact triangles, so kids can also practice the related subtraction and division facts depending on which number they cover with their finger. More important than mastering many, many multiplication facts is that our second graders have mastered knowing what multiplication IS. We spend weeks with manipulatives and drawings so kids understand exactly what multiplication means.

I am thinking of having a no calculator rule next year. All they do is program the physics formulas in the graphing calculators so they do not really know them. I am actually thinking of giving them a list of the values of sin cos and tan and a cheapo calculator.

You could always run off an old trig table.. the kind we used back in the olden days before calculators.

That is what I am planning on using. They never learn the physics formulas because they simply program them into the calculator. I an thinking of purchasing a class set of calculators that can add, subtract, multiply, divide, and take a square root because honestly if they had to do those things, it would take them forever to take a test. I showed them a slide rule last year and they freaked. Admittedly I never used a slide rule because we had those huge TI calculators with the LED reading when I was in high school.

I have one student who was particularly struggling with his facts at the beginning of the school year when we were reviewing subtraction. At conferences, I mentioned maybe making/purchasing a set of flash cards to practice with at home. The mom said, "Ugh, we're still finding those things around the living room from first grade."

This is how it was for me growing up...no calcs. until trigonometric functions...I hope I said that right ( too much wine tonight.) I remember using flash cards for drill memorizing times tables.....If the kid gets the " concept" of mulitiplying there should be no reason why this drill and practice has gone by the wayside.