Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Interesting Approach to Deeper Understanding of Multiplication Facts

This summer I am participating in a book study, How the Brain Learns Mathematics 2nd Edition, and we have been discussing the importance of memorizing multiplication tables. So while I was at the the Museum of Science in Boston last week I was excited to find a balance that can be used to help students gain better conceptual understanding of the basic multiplication facts. I was so excited with the possibilities of this device that I have tried to explain what it does but have not done a great job! So I hope that by providing the pictures I took while I was "playing" with the balance I can clear up the confusion about how this works.

 When I looked at the example I thought this may be a way to help students develop number sense.

Then I began to think about how the balance beam could be used to help students with the basic multiplication facts. 

So, I began to play . . .  
6 times 2 balances with 3 times 4

10 times 2 balances with 4 times 5

Then I thought how many different ways could I balance 10 times 2?
10 times 2 balances with 5 times 4

10 times 2 balances with (5 times 2 + 10 times 1)

Now I changed it up a bit to also include addition!

10 times 2 balances with (2 times 6 + 8 times 1)

10 times 2 balances with (2 times 6 + 4 times 2)
I had to stop playing to give others a turn!

My questions are:

  1. Can the balance beam be used as I have demonstrated?
  2. Would this type of activity help students with understanding multiplication? 

Sousa, David A. How the Brain Learns Mathematics. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2015. Print.