6th Graders Can't Multiply

And that sucks.

If you have read my blog you know that this year I teach 3 classes of just 6th grade girls and 2 classes of just 7th grade boys and one class of just 8th grade boys.  

We are a gender segregated school.

Anyway.  We also have TERRIBLE test scores.  Our scores are so bad, the students that are placed in the "advanced" classes...are students who are scoring at proficient. It is pretty bad. 

I would say of my seventy-two 6th graders, maybe 12 are really proficient at their multiplication facts. I watch students skip count, I watch students make tally marks, I watch students make arrays.   As I start teaching students how to simplify expressions using the distributive property, I am looking at these children and wondering how are you going to factor binomials if you have to count on your hands 9x5?!?!?!?!?!?!  I CAN NOT STAND lattice multiplication (this subject is sore, and worth it is own post), but for crying out loud I would pay someone a billion dollars if all my students could at least do that!

My colleague and I decided to do something about it. We have instated the Great Multiplication Face Off.

That is right ladies and gentlemen it is a Boys agains Girls who can be the Masters of the Multiples?

What is at stake here?
A two period end of the day party.  We are talking dance party, pizza, candy, ice-cream, video-games arts and crafts what ever these little mathematicians would like.  They also get this:

What is this you might ask?  Why would kids care about this?  OH MY FRIENDS this little piece of neon paper with an adhesive square is the most coveted item in our school store.  It is a non-uniform pass.  Get this puppy and you do not have to wear a uniform while all your friends do.

So I have spent quite a few days on just multiplication.  I have scoured TPT looking for activities.  I was shocked by the number of things you could buy, but also sad that it racks up very fast.  It is the reason that I give my things away free.  You are my PLC. 

I bought a TON of these (Used, on Amazon):
We did timed tests by fact.  I used this super cute product from Rachel Parlett from Classroom Game Nook.  (Click the picture to be taken to her TPT store).

The girls loved making the ice cream cones as they passed the tests!
I gave them so many color by multiplication facts.

We talked about the patterns in math!  Here is a video of this awesome way of thinking about multiplication and the answers. Right brained math!  My hands are super shaky in this video as I did not have time to eat today....Tubie Problem!

As a team we have decided that the way to "prove" that students are proficient is to use a timed test.  We have been taking timed tests twice a week on Mondays and Fridays.  It is a 60 question 2 minute timed test.  This is getting us prepared for the big daddy of them all timed test on Friday March 28th.  This will be a 100 question 5 minute test.  

As it stands, we are totally manipulating our kiddos a little bit making them think that they have to take a 100 question test in 2 minutes....They do not know that they get 5 minutes yet. 

So we take these tests and gather the data, then show the results each week.  We are stating that you are "proficient" if you can get 90% on your weekly timed test or 54 questions right. 

If you do not pass your test you are to take home a Rainbow Write.  I made these so that my students could practice timing themselves.  The first thing is that they can time themselves doing the wrap ups.  Then they do the rainbow write.  You work through the fact using different writing utensils but someone should time you at the same time.  Many students fear the timed test!!!!  This has actually helped many of them concur the fear. 

The Rainbow Write looks like this:


I have many girls that take the hardest ones home every day even though it is not homework!!!  SCORE!

This is how we are standing right now.  (We did take a test on Tuesday (no school on Monday the 3rd for PD) but I scheduled this to post on Thursday).

GIRLS ARE KICKING BUTT.  Well not really.  But it is something to give them hope.

I thought that the competition would not be good for the girls but they are so into it.  They want to "beat their ex-boyrfriends butts!"

What ever works.  What ever works.  I will give you an update next week on where we are at!



  1. Something that helped our students out with multiplication is Math in a Flash. It is by the same company that does Accelerated Reading, which is Renaissance Learning. Students log in and practice daily. We love it. Stephanie from Principal Principles

  2. I love it. I have struggled to get my 5th's to learn their tables. Maybe a competition is in order too...
    I've nominated you for a sunshine blogger award. You can check it out here

  3. Hey Jameson! I just have to tell you how much I love your blog. I teach 2nd grade in Minnesota and although we teach completely different grade levels, I do find myself coming across your blog from time to time just to read your posts. I have nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award and if you want to participate, stop by my blog to read all about it. Keep the quality posts coming!
    Mrs. Olson’s Lucky Little Learners

  4. Thanks for the Patterns in Multiplication video! I love it! I hope that showing this to my 3rd graders, they will start to understand patterns just a bit more. We're struggling learning our facts...

    The Journey of a Beginning Teacher

  5. Thanks for sharing your students challenges and especially all the great things you and your colleague are doing to help them. I teach 3rd grade and am fathomed why they are struggling to learn their facts, but I will keep using any strategy to help them.

    2 Smart Wenches

  6. I hate how math is taught these days. My 3rd grader comes home and asks for help and has no idea what I'm trying to tell him because I learned it a completely different way! I do, however, love what you're doing. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone!! (go girls!)


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