**Times Tables Practice**

One of the commonest problems I see with my math students is their not knowing their times tables. Even in this day of calculators, knowledge of times tables is going to be essential for students — both factoring polynomials and simplifying fractions require having this knowledge wired in. Students will also perform better on classroom and standardized tests if they have the speed that comes with having the times tables memorized, rather than having to constantly resort to a calculator.

For a fun and easy way to improve a student’s multiplication skills, go to the following link :

http://www.mathsisfun.com/numbers/math-trainer-multiply.html

Once a student can work all of the “smaller” times tables and get 40 correct answers and 0 wrong with the timer set for 2 minutes, they are doing pretty well. They should be able to get 100 correct answers and 0 wrong with the timer set for 5 minutes for the larger times table (10 times Table).

**Addition and Subtraction Tables – NO MORE Counting on Fingers!**

The problems I see with multiplication also extend into addition and subtraction. Sadly, I still have students counting on their fingers in order to figure out sums… 😦 As with the multiplication tables, addition and subtraction of small numbers should be memorized. It is really sad to watch someone get a problem wrong because they couldn’t add 9 and 4.

The same site that provides the times table trainer also provides a skills trainer for addition :

http://www.mathsisfun.com/numbers/math-trainer-addition.html

And also for subtraction :

http://www.mathsisfun.com/numbers/math-trainer-subtract.html

Again, start by working the easy tables and work up to the more difficult ones. 40 correct answers with 0 wrong in 2 minutes is a good score — provided the student is doing his or her own typing. If someone else is keying in the numbers, they should be able to do better than 20 correct answers per minute.

**Graphing Calculator**

This is a link to a graphing calculator that is out on the web. While it is true that most high school students have a hand held graphing calculator, there is a real advantage in having a display that is large and easy to read. Spending some time “playing” with slightly different versions of a basic equation to see how the variations alter the graph, will help build a student’s understanding and intuition when it comes to graphing.

https://www.desmos.com/calculator

**Scientifc Calculator**

This web-based calculator is good for doing complex computations. Again, there tends to be an advantage to having a large display. It is easy to end up with incorrect calculations due to incorrect or inadequate use of parentheses. This calculator displays an “interpreted equation” that will make a student aware of errors that result from a lack of parentheses.

**Bedtime Math**

This is a great link that will let you sign up to have a daily math problem that you can work with your kids sent to your inbox. It was started by parents that wanted to create a fun bedtime math event to go along with bedtime stories and reading.

Each entry has problems for “Wee ones” (preschool), “Little kids” (elementary grades), “Big kids” (middle school age), and “The sky’s the limit” (older). Any parent should be able to engage with their children on the problems for the younger ages, and most parents will be able to help children figure out the more complicated problems as well. The learning in these exercises isn’t all about knowing the answer in advance. It probably more important to be willing to model thinking about how to solve the problem when you *don’t* immediately have the answer, or when your answer is wrong.

Here is a sample of their bedtime offerings :

http://bedtimemath.org/waterslide-for-ducks/

http://bedtimemath.org/tigers-as-pets/

http://bedtimemath.org/getting-your-kicks-from-the-world-cup/

http://bedtimemath.org/national-waffle-iron-day/

**Newton’s Window**

Another good resource for developing *thinking* skills is the Newton’s Window website. You can sign up for their newsletter of learning tools and tips.

http://newtonswindow.com/summermath.htm

And they have several sample “thinking” problems out on the website :

http://newtonswindow.com/ex2.htm

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