Here are 3 FAST ideas for teaching multi-digit multiplication. These interventions are easy and quick for busy teachers.
The multi-digit multiplication struggle
Does this sound familiar?
You’ve been teaching 2-digit multiplication for a week now and your students just don’t get it.
You’ve tried all the normal stuff like giving students a multiplication chart, tried timed tests to teach facts, offered incentives. I’m sure you’ve tried really hard. And your students probably tried pretty hard, too.
But they still don’t get it.
You’re not alone. And it’s not your fault. Many students aren’t developmentally ready for the multiple steps of the traditional algorithm. Many students aren’t fluent in basic multiplication facts.
But you do have to deal with it.
3 FAST Intervention ideas to try
Use these 3 FAST ideas for teaching multi-digit multiplication. They’ve stood the test of time and are worth the time and effort.
1. Help students keep their work neat.
Legible, lined up numbers are so important to success in math. Students simply must have legible handwriting and good alignment to keep numbers in columns.
These next few tips deal with keeping their numbers and columns lined up.
First, encourage students to write with nice, sharp pencils to keep their handwriting small and neat. Dull pencils smear and the writing is fatter, taking up more space.
Another tip to help with alignment is to use math graphic organizers. They’re great for keeping numbers and columns aligned.
You can see from the image below how the organizer keeps everything neatly lined up. Straight numbers and columns are vital as students work and learn. Spacing is also important, and these organizers allow students room to work without crowding their numbers.
If your students don’t require quite that much support, or if they’re ready to scaffold towards independence, you should try graph paper or grid paper. Graph paper has helped students succeed in math for decades – and it still works today. The grids easily keep numbers, columns, and rows neat and tidy.
If you don’t have time to make your own, these sets are prepared and ready immediately for class – just print and go! Perfect for busy teachers with students who require lots of practice and repetition.
Notebook paper turned sideways provides lines for students to keep their work neat. This strategy is cheap and SO EASY!
NOTE: Some students may struggle to write their numbers small enough to fit neatly between the lines.
But because it’s free, it’s definitely worth a try!
If you aren’t sure which sets are right for your students, try one of each – FREE! Click the image below to grab a FREE set to try!
2. Let’s work on multiplication fact fluency.
I’m a believer in using a wide variety of different methods to teach fact fluency – and my favorite activity is games.
The game above is perfect for students who are learning their multiplication facts for the first time or students who need intense study of basic multiplication facts.
Students simply start the timer and proceed to place the answer cards on top of the corresponding fact. The top portion of the Practice Mat lists the facts in order. The bottom half shows the facts all mixed up.
*The game was purposely designed to allow students to “cheat” by looking at the top portion. It provides confidence as their time improves, and students soon learn to solve the problems without relying on the top portion.
Other options for games can be as simple as using flashcards with a board game or tic-tac-toe. Match student partners who are at similar levels of fluency to avoid upset feelings.
You can allow partners to use a multiplication chart to check each other’s answers.
Online games and learning programs work well also for some students. Xtramath.org is a dependable, worthwhile program that I’ve used for years. Check out this blog post: Xtramath.org – a wonderful FREE Program for Your Math Class!
Using timed tests is still a popular way to teach and motivate students to learn their facts. If you’re looking for a basic set of multiplication timed test, I’ve got one in my store.
I’ve also purchased and used this resource from another Teachers Pay Teachers author, Created by Mr. Hughes. My students have enjoyed the challenge and making their own dodecahedron – plus they look pretty cool hanging in the classroom.
3. Provide references – big and small.
As students are solving multi-digit multiplication problems, they often need reminders and visual cues because there are so many steps needed to solve them.
Anchor charts and posters serve as visual resources and references that help students answer many questions for themselves.
Reference posters and anchor charts (like the one above) can teach students to rely on themselves to solve problems and answer questions. This promotes independence and confidence. Plus, the teacher has more time to support struggling students rather than answering the same questions over and over.
I use this 2-digit multiplication anchor chart (above) for frequent review of 2-digit by 2-digit multiplication. It follows the same visual cues as the multiplication organizers. It’s perfect for teachers who need to know how to teach multi-digit multiplication.
And it’s reusable!
Notice the sticky notes. Change them out for different numbers each day for frequent practice! You can make the problems as basic or as challenging as your class needs.
Use Posters and anchor charts like this daily or weekly for beginners, special education students, or all students who benefit from frequent review.
A few last words . . .
When teaching multi-digit multiplication, what works with some students might not work with others. Stay open-minded and flexible about trying new ideas and strategies. Many students need repetition and to see the concepts presented in a variety of ways several times before it clicks with them.