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As a young student, I railed against memorization and my “Draconian, pseudo-fascist teachers” who demanded that I spit out the answer for “6 times 7” like a soulless automaton. (I was also given to overblown metaphors and florid tirades.) As a teacher, some small part of me still cringes every year when it is time to encourage my 3rd graders to memorize the multiplication/division facts. “Long live the calculator!” the former freedom fighter in me cries out. 

Given my rocky relationship with memorizing math facts, I am always on the hunt for effective and motivating ways to help my students achieve “automaticity.” And now that the Common Core Standards explicitly require 3rd grade students to “fluently multiply and divide within 100,” I am particularly focused on effective strategies to help my students meet this standard ( Standard 3.OA.7 ). Here are some strategies that simultaneously help my students’ math memories and mollify my conscience.

First off, my students must internalize what multiplication means long before they begin to memorize the multiplication facts. They must have an intuitive understanding about the reciprocal relationship between multiplication and division, and equal groups and equal shares, and the connection with repeated addition and skip counting.

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Posted by 2018 article

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