BFS

Grade 3 x Multiplication = Mad Math Skills

This article appears in the summer 2022 issue of The Light, our Brooklyn Friends School magazine. 

Academic rites of passage are a big part of any and every school year at Brooklyn Friends School. While there are far too many of these to fit into a single magazine, let alone a single article, this will focus on an important moment in every third grader’s educational journey—multiplication!

In early April, the BFS third graders started learning their multiplication facts, doing lots of work in school to build a conceptual understanding of multiplication, and they have noticed many interesting rules, relationships, and patterns.

Students focused on building up the bank of multiplication facts, and it is common that everyone learns these facts in different ways:

Some people mainly rely on using some facts they know to figure out the trickier facts (so If I know 8 × 5 = 40, then 8 × 6 = 48)…

Some people are really helped by seeing visuals—and by writing down and seeing the answer many times…

Some people learn best through songs, rhymes, and other auditory strategies…

Everyone needs a lot of repetition before a fact becomes one that they really know well.

We’re encouraging students to experiment and discover what strategies work best for them.

For weeks, students practice using related facts, singing songs, building physical representations of facts, playing games, and regularly using flash cards. Each week, the students focused on one group of facts, such as multiples of 5.

In the end, all of our third grade students can hold their heads up high knowing that they now hold new tools and skills! While there are more advanced aspects of math to come, learning multiplication is a major step for every student who passes through Brooklyn Friends School.

Special thanks to our colleagues, Kate Minear, Sarah Gordon, Andrew Andrade, Megan Glionna, Sophie Dougherty, Caroline Bannan, and James Kotak for their tireless work throughout the year (and their work on largely sculpting this article.)

*Pictured: Third Grade students taking a break from multiplication to smile for the camera.

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