Memory Lane – Third Grade

29 Sep

When I reminisce about my elementary school days, I remember my third grade teacher, Mrs. Sparks.  I enjoy the astonished looks on my girls’ faces whenever I share moments from my youth.  “You were a girl once?!” they ask.  Indeed I was, and I’m not too old to remember some details!  I recall the yellow sheet of paper that Mrs. Sparks handed to each student and proclaimed, “Memorize these facts.”  No fancy rhymes, memory games or promises of treats.  What was on the paper?  Multiplication tables.

Before I withdrew my oldest daughter from public school, her class was beginning to learn the multiplication tables and I heard myself utter, “Just memorize them.”  If I did it that way, why couldn’t she?  When the teacher introduced a motivational game to help the class learn the tables, I rolled my eyes.  I kept hearing Mrs. Sparks’ words ringing in my ears, “Memorize these facts.”  Wasn’t the way I learned the fastest and best way?


Thanks to Steve Demme, creator of Math U See, both my daughter and I are learning (or in my case re-learning) the multiplication tables.  Mr. Demme has a unique approach; he teaches the why and how not just the what.  Sure, many kids can memorize the multiplication facts but most don’t understand the why.  Why does 5 x 10 = 50?  Math U See requires the student to build the equations so she can see for herself why and how it equals 50.

Today’s lesson was an eye-opener for ME.  Mr. Demme reviewed multiplying by 5s and revealed the fabulous number patterns.  Yes, there’s more than one way to solve a multiplication problem and Mr. Demme makes it fun!  Sorry, Mrs. Sparks.  We’ve found a better way to understand multiplication tables than merely by memorization.


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