Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Maths - trying the fishbowl technique

Hello friends,

I am currently working through the tips and tricks for learning your times tables with my students. This week we gave the 'Fish Bowl' a go (see this previous post) and it worked brilliantly :)
Your classroom culture MUST be established though as it is a 'risk-taking' exercise for the students to share their thinking and feel comfortable about being vulnerable with with this.

 We all used different materials at our table groups and also rotated around between activities so that the kiddies got to experience a variety of ways to model their  thinking.

Prior to this, we had looked at multiplying with 0,1, 2, 3, 5 and 10. Now we were moving to 4 and 6. These 2 numbers are special in that they have factors that we have already covered.

I asked the students if they could create a number story they could model, that showed this idea (factorisation). I didn't call it that - I wanted them to discover the concept for themselves. They were very inventive with the way that they used colour to demarcate for place value where needed (including for decimals). I found it very revealing and the kiddies all learnt heaps about misconceptions and factors. Here is the first video showing a common misconception. This students was modeling 6 x 23 or 6 groups of 23 with coloured sticks. He used colour to demarcate the ones and tens and the groups into their sets as well. He self corrected just after this video snippet when he realised that his total as explained did not match the workings in his book.


This video shows a students who had the correct understanding and could even interchange the factors. His story was 6 x 5 or 6 groups of 5. He demonstrates 2 x 3 x 5 and 3 x 2 x 5:


Finally this student used coloured jelly beans to demonstrate multiplying decimals. His equation is 6  x 8.4 or 6 groups of 8 wholes and 4 tenths. He also uses colour to demarcate wholes from tenths. Please note that this concept was devised originally by the first student with the misconception and adapted by this student after the first one shared.  


This little resource is great with helping to remember the times tables tricks for both teacher and student. You can print them into little foldable booklets for student mathsbooks or homework books too. They have been grouped into the sets that tables are usually learnt.

I quickly added these images from our maths books. We are just up to the 4 and 6 times:

Available internationally from:

Available in New Zealand from
How do you teach multiplication tables to your students?

Thank you for visiting. Come again soon.

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