Multiplying & Dividing with Unknowns


In third grade one of the biggest mathematical goals is for students to master their multiplication and division basic facts within 100. No problem, right? Wrong! This is a big demand and students must not only know how to solve basic problems such as 7 x 3 = ? but they are also expected to solve problems with the unknown in other positions like 7 x ? = 21. So how do I help my students achieve this goal? Practice! Practice! Practice!

I infuse multiplication and division practice into my math block each and every day. The students are engaged in any of the following activities to practice their facts:

--Using Chromebooks to access online games or tools --Playing partner or group games --Completing printable resources or activities --Task Cards & Flash Card practice --Using various strategies for learning basic facts (i.e. using a known fact, the distributive property, etc.)

In our classroom, one web game that the students engage in is Greg Tang’s Break Apart Game. It can be used for all operations. The game allows students to take a problem and use smaller facts to solve it. The game is engaging and requires students to have a deeper understanding of their basic facts. We also use TenMarks an instructional program created through Amazon which gives students opportunities to answer questions which are aligned to the Common Core. TenMarks offers both free and premium accounts. In this program, teachers can assign specific lessons or assignments for students to complete online. After the students have completed an assignment, a teacher can see a report of student responses. Often, I will use the reports to guide my instruction. If I see many students are having difficulty with a specific concept, I will pull a small group and do a mini-lesson to help them develop the skills necessary to master the concept. TenMarks will also help prepare students for state testing and high level questioning.

In addition to these web resources, I created a set of multiplication task cards with unknowns in various positions. These task cards allow students to practice their basic facts and are broken down into smaller subsets of facts that we usually teach tricks for. For example, 4’s and 8’s are part of the same set because one strategy we teach our students is if you know 4 x 6 = 24 then you can solve 8 x 6 because you simply have to double the product of your fact of four. These task cards have been incredibly helpful in giving students additional practice with learning their facts!

Of course, I also incorporate Bump games, Four-In-A-Row, Concentration, and many other games that I have found via Teachers Pay Teachers. The more practice and exposure students have with multiplication, the greater success they will have with learning their facts!

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