Note Cards for Learning Multiplication Facts

As I have mentioned before, I am teaching a new arithmetic/math study skills course. (The math topics are whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and percents.) This week we finished a 2-day session on learning basic multiplication facts, so I thought it would be a nice follow-up to the note card series (part 1, part 2, part 3) to share how we used note cards in that class.

We began the unit with a 100 question multiplication fact quiz. (As an aside, the majority of these students were unable to perfectly complete this quiz in 5 minutes.) For each problem that the students got wrong they had to create two note cards.

Fact Family Note Card

The first note card was a note card that showed the fact family associated with that product. The card is triangular in shape, with the two factors in the top corners and their product in the bottom corner. Here is an example for 3×5=15.

The idea is that the sooner a student realizes the 3, 5, and 15 are all related, the sooner they will memorize 3×5 and 5×3 (as well as the associated quotients). It works really well for visual learners. Students were to cycle through the cards, looking at all 3 numbers. Once they felt confident, they could cycle through the cards while holding their thumb over the product at the bottom, giving them a chance to quiz themselves.

Quizzing Note Card

The second card that students had to create was a standard multiplication fact card with the problem on the front and the answer on the back. They cycle through the cards, guessing the product and checking their answer by looking at the back of the card.

Results

I gave the same 100-question quiz after the students studied their cards over the weekend, and nearly half of the students were perfect this time. As the course goes on, we will reduce the amount of time available for this quiz. Hopefully this effort will pay off once we reach the fraction material. I did other activities, such as building a multiplication table, etc. If you’d like a full explanation of the in class activities, let me know and I’ll blog on them in the future. I also set up an online practice page for my students that allows them to practice with a specific factor in a randomized fashion. You can use this page at the following address: http://georgewoodbury.com/mult.html  If you use it, I’d love your feedback.

If you have any comments or questions related to using note cards in math, or learning multiplication facts, let me know.  Please share by leaving a comment, or reaching me through the contact page at my web site – georgewoodbury.com.

-George

I am a math instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. Each Tuesday I post an article related to Math Study Skills on my blog. If there’s a particular study skill you’d like me to address, or if you have a question or a comment, please let me know. You can reach me through the contact page on my website – http://georgewoodbury.com.

• 1. Michelle  |  September 14, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Great idea – I think I’ll be borrowing it for my adapted class. My only suggestion would be to rotate the triangle around so that the 15 is on the top. That way when you cover the 3 or 5 to view the dividing fact, the larger number is on top so it looks similar to a fractional representation of 15/3. I know that many of my kids still think that 15/3 is the same as 3/15.

Thanks for sharing 🙂

• 2. georgewoodbury  |  September 14, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Thanks Michelle. Someone else mentioned the same thing on my Facebook page – it accomplishes everything we need for multiplication, but will help for division & fractions too. I’ll try it that way next time.