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DI Math Facts

An interesting story about an Oregon public school using Don Crawford's Mastering Math Facts (purchase here).

Oregonian Article Here


Anyone who went beyond third grade remembers memorizing multiplication tables. Today, that's old stuff for some of Sari Hedges' second-graders.

Hedges' students and virtually all others at Hopkins Elementary School in Sherwood are using a program to memorize multiplication tables, as well as addition, subtraction and division facts.

The program is called "Mastering Math Facts." Hedges and Kathy Hardman, a fourth-grade teacher, studied the system in a seminar about three years ago so they could introduce the ideas to other Hopkins teachers.

The program encourages students to memorize basic math answers, then recall them quickly, Hedges said. "That way they don't have to stop to think about basic math problems and they can go on to complete more challenging problems."

Advanced students learn to retain such facts as 9 divided by 3 equals 3, and 6 divided by 2 equals 3. Younger students can say quickly that 3 plus 8 equals 11, and 2 plus 6 equals 8.

Hannah Jeans, 7, had one word for the program: "Cool."

In the program, each student strives to meet a self-established goal for completing a specific number of problems each day.

The program is divided into 26 levels, from A to Z. Each student starts working at Level A. When all the problems in that section are mastered, the student moves on to Level B, then C and so on.

Most second-graders are working on addition, though some have moved on to subtraction. In a review section that Hedges devised, some students work on subtraction and addition problems at the same time.

That's a little harder to do, Principal Nanci Sheeran said, but the mixed worksheets help students sharpen both skills.

The program seems to appeal to boys and girls equally, Hedges said. "I have seven students who are already in multiplication. That's rare for second-graders. Three of the seven are girls."

One of her students, Kellen Croston, has progressed through Level Z, also rare for a second-grader. Croston, who plans to be a mathematician and work for NASA when he grows up, now joins fourth-graders for math class, though he continues practicing math skills in his second-grade class.

"I like that it's challenging and that there are different goals," he said. "It's not all the same for all kids."

Shortly before noon each day, students in Hedges' class study math problems at the top of a page. At a signal from Hedges, they spend one minute quickly writing down answers to similar problems at the bottom of the page. When the time is up, they see whether they've completed the two or three rows of problems that each set as a goal.

On one recent day, when the teacher signaled that time was up, most students cheered their progress, waving their pages at one another, Hedges and class visitors to show how well they had done.

Setting individual goals is important, Hedges said. Some second-graders write faster than others, and they will complete more problems during timed tests. But slower writers may be doing well at learning math facts. Their individual goals reflect their achievements, she said.

Goals also keep students motivated, Hedges said. If motivation flags, she sends flash cards home for extra drills or asks a volunteer to work with a student.