My favorite part of teaching was being able to help students who were struggling in their studies. I knew there had to be a way for everyone to understand and learn new information and concepts. I would spend hours developing methods and tools for teaching these struggling students and I would implement these new ideas when working with them. If the results weren’t what I hoped for, I would go back and modify/refine the lesson, try again with the student, and continue this pattern until success was achieved.
Modifying lessons seemed natural for me, as one idea seamlessly blossomed into another. I really felt excited and motivated when going through this process. The anticipation that I might actually be able to relieve a student of their anxiety, frustration, or confusion was my driving force.”
In my 25 years of teaching in the elementary schools, I have seen math anxiety increase among students and teachers. The higher expectations required by education policy makers burdened an already crammed curriculum.”
I was upset to see the majority of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in regular education still counting on their fingers, adding aloud, or writing repeated addition to arrive at an answer to a multiplication fact. There were only a handful of students who knew the multiplication facts from memory and they were able to understand and “keep up” with a typical math program involving long multiplication and division, multi-step word problems, fraction work, and pre-algebra. Those who did not have the multiplication facts memorized fell far behind. Teachers had to “post” a large sheet of multiplication tables on a wall so that students could reference it while they completed their math assignments.”
Even more dismaying were the behaviors that resulted from the student’s math insecurity.When it was time for group work, most of the students relied upon one knowledgeable student to take charge and do the work. I noticed that many students had given up on math. Many had resorted to cheating.
I had to help these struggling students regain their basic math skills, especially memorizing the multiplication facts. Some of the methods I tried were: songs, games, multiplication fact flip charts, and pictures/drawings paired with mini stories, phrases, or rhymes. After using these methods, I found that the games and flip charts did NOT facilitate the student’s automatic recall of the facts. The songs and pictures/drawings paired with mini stories, phrases, or rhymes did not facilitate the desired results either. The student’s complaint about the latter mentioned methods was that there was “too much to remember”. I thought I must create something that utilizes the knowledge students already possess (thus, eliminating the “too much to remember” complaint) and I must make it simple, interesting, and effective. If I used color cues in conjunction with numerical digits, I would be using information the students already know (color and numerical digits). With that thought as the core of my product, I developed the Color Coded Multiplication program (CCM).
I used the CCM program with many students who didn’t or “couldn’t” memorize the multiplication facts. And, guess what! Just as I hoped, the program worked and it worked very well! Now I’d like to share the CCM with as many people as I can.
When not blogging or working on her educational ideas/ business, Margo takes her love of art, physical exercise, and science outdoors. She enjoys nature while attending to her many flower gardens.
“Those gardens are my combined artist’s palette and ongoing science experiment,” she says.” I like to call my gardens “Perseverence Gardens”. Nature is not always cooperative and it takes much patience, work, and determination to get the kind of results you wish to reap.”
In a sense, this is a correlation to the way I feel about teaching. If there’s a will, there’s a way to find solutions to student’s learning problems. Keep on….and the answers will be found.