I haven't taught it in 4 years, and figured this would be a good time to pool some resources. One thing I really want to concentrate on this year is number sense and mental math. I decided last night-- at about 2 am when I was wide awake thinking about this stuff- that my Do Now for the forseeable future is going to be times tables. Yep, my Honors classes in my College Prep school are going to do times tables for at least the first few weeks of school. Then we'll move on to perfect squares and perfect cubes. Some of them have been using calculators for so long they've forgotten how to think. I've been trolling the internet for some worksheets and projects, and will be happy to share what I've found so far with anyone who wants it.

Alice~I'm not teaching Alg I and won't even be in an inclusion Alg I class this year; however, I think it's a great idea to focus on times tables. I found working with Alg I students last year that even the smartest students didn't have automatic recall of their multiplication facts.

My grade 7s will be getting some focused practice with times tables to start the year; I know they need it!

I'm teaching 4 sections of Algebra I to 8th graders. Next year we will switch to common core, so probably no more Algebra for me. I use Khan a bit, but do not have a lot of resources figured out yet(this is my 2nd year). Would love to share ideas.

I'm not teaching algebra 1 this year, but this is one of the best resources I've used in the past: http://algebra.mrmeyer.com/ Great lesson ideas.

Another good warmup is an integer chart. The students practice combining integers. On a half sheet, create a row on top with 8 integers and a column down the left side of 8 (or whatever size chart suits you). The students fill in the squares and then check their work as you (or confident students) call out the answers.

Also, have you seen multiplication "frenzies"? They are like the integer warmup I mentioned, but timed and done with partners.

I teach Int Alg, but I do a lot of factor puzzles.. you know the what two numbers multiply to be -630 and add to be -83. Really helps them out when we review factoring

How strange... a "Page 2" is showing up, but I can't access it. Let's see what happens when I add another post... eta....OK, now I can see Catcherman's post

Hi Alice! Not too sure I would spend so much time on times tables. A great idea is the first few minutes of class as a warm up doing a "Sprint." This is a common strategy in Singapore for quick mental calculation. Basically it works like this. You create a sheet of one or two columns of fast mental math problems - times tables, factoring, GCF, LCM etc. More problems than the fastest kid in class can do. You have them keep them face down on their desk. Grab a timer - I use Smartboard timers - and say GO!! Give them one minute to do as many problems as they can. Then have them drop their pencils. Read out the answers and have them say "Oh Baby" if they get it right - really funny. Have them record their stuff at the top and pass them in. This in and of it self is a really fun activity. You can also have them track their progress and compete with themselves. I also do a variation of this with an online test builder - junoed. Good luck and have fun!! Dr. Bill The PD Corner

I'm very much against timed activities when it comes to math. Math is NOT about speed. When the slower kids take these "timed activities" and time after time never finish and/or get too many wrong because they were forced to speed through it, it diminishes their confidence and promotes a fixed mindset that tells them they're not good at math, so they give up.

LOL, Thanks Jo :lolEveryone on this board is an expert on mindset ) Unfortunately we have these things called standardized tests that we must prepare students for...heck even regular classroom tests have to be timed.

To be honest, I'm completely comfortable with several weeks of times tables as the 3 or 4 minute Do Now every day. From there I'll move on to perfect squares and cubes, then operations with fractions. Sure, drill is boring. But 3 or 4 minutes won't kill them. (It's kind of like brushing your teeth... great return for relatively painless input. ) And it will make them better at factoring when it comes up. And that will help them with the chapter on Rational Expressions. It will help them solve quadratics. And all the verbal problems we do that involve quadratics. That's pretty good mileage out of a few weeks of Do Now problems. I'm very willing to trade off the fun factor for kids who have a better facility with numbers. I don't want them to race to finish, I want them to very consciously write down their times tables so they begin to remember them again. .

Times tables, basic math... SO IMPORTANT! Definitely start with that "easy" stuff because I bet lots of kids are missing it.

So many kids were handed a calculator at the age of 12-- or younger!!!-- and have never looked back. Basic number capabilites tend to be a use-it-or-lose-it deal... and way too many have lost it.

I'm always a bit confused by the insistence on the memorization of times tables and the lamentation of calculators. Are there specific things that not knowing rote memorization hurts? I ask because I had to teach myself elementary algebra outside the public school system, and not knowing the times tables hasn't hurt me in the slightest. In fact, the further I get from classes where these skills are emphasized, the less and less I'm affected by it. From my perspective, it seems the focus on these types of facts exists because that's what the focus is on, not because they're intrinsically important. Very circular. If you're going to drill mental arithmetic, why not get a book on how actual mental arithmetic is done and spend a time teaching some of the tricks from that instead? Every day, practice for five minutes and expand the techniques. The multiplication table is fairly useless by itself if you want to do a great deal of arithmetic in your head.

Yes, there are absolutely things that require memorization of times tables. If you never learned your times tables, then you probably struggled with long division. So division of Polynomials is going to make you cry. And you can't simplify radicals.. with or without an imaginary component. If you don't know your times tables, you're going to have great difficulty factoring , particularly trinomials. (And the ones with a leading coefficient other than 1 are going to kill you!) You can't find the GCF, you can't factor the sum or difference of squares or cubes. You can't factor by grouping if ANY of those problems involve a coefficient or constant. That means you're going to have difficulty solving quadratic and cubic equations. That means there's a whole group of verbal problems you'e going to have difficulty with. As an algebra teacher, my job is teaching my kids to face a verbal problem, determine the appropriate equation, and know the method for solving that equation. It also means you're going to struggle with simplifying Algebraic expressions. And fractional equations, since the denominators must be factored in order to find the LCD. Bumping it up to Precalc-- and all my kids will take either Precalc or Calc as Seniors-- you're going to struggle finding the verical asymptotes for a rational function. And finding the roots of a polynomial function. If you can't factor, then the Rational Roots Theorem won't make sense. And neither will the Remainder theorem-- how do you make sense of the relationship between factors and roots if you can't find the factors? Right off the top of my head, at 6:09 on a Saturday morning on the tail end of summer vacation-- ALL of those topics in high school math require factoring. And if you don't know your times tables, you can't factor. Then there are the more practical issues-- being able to determine a tip or a discount without the use of a calculator. Have you ever had a cashier who couldn't figure out what to do with a return that had been discounted? Or seen someone in a store struggling aloud with the cost of an item, given that it was on sale? I don't want my kids to be the ones who need to pull out their phones to do that sort of math. I want to give them the gift of facility with numbers, of good number sense. I always joke with them that they're going to get dumped if they need to pull out a phone to determine the tip on a meal when they take a date out to dinner. And, no, my job is not to teach tricks. My job is to teach math. I'll only teach the tricks after my kids know the math behind them. When I teach SAT prep, that's where I do the tricks. Because the focus of that course is getting the highest possible score. In SAT prep, all I care about is that you're able to come up with the right answer in the shortest possible time. I don't care whether you remember the math behind it... but then again, in a period or two, those same kids are walking into an Algebra II & Trig class, where some math teacher WILL expect them to know the actual math. Too many of my kids have knowledge that's a mile wide and 2 centimeters thick. They know lots of tricks, but have no number sense. What they interpret as "knowing math" translates to "knowing which buttons to push." Not on my watch. They're in my class to learn math, not magic. I have no issue with calculators as a shortcut, once you understand the math behind them. But I've seen and tutored too many kids who think that understanding math means memorizing a series of keys to punch. Again, not on my watch. My job is not just to get the answers.. I HAVE the answers. It's to teach my kids how and why the answers are correct. To teach them to come up with alternate strategies and approaches. To question "will this also work?" and to give them the tools to figure out whether or not it will. To teach them how to recognize an answer that can't possibly be right, even if it's what the calculator gave them. But all of that requires that they have facility with numbers. Just as we require kids to know the alphabet if they're to learn to read, they need to know their times tables if they're to learn to do math well.

For anyone else teaching Algebra I, I've just found what looks to be a pretty cool resource: http://nplainfieldmath.wikispaces.com/file/view/Pizzazz+Algebra.pdf (In case the link doesn't work, google Algebra with Pizzazz." It's a workbook full of "fun" practice problems. )