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Home > Math >Review of "Five Times Five Is Not Ten" by Susan Greenwald, M.A. Ed.

" Five Times Five Is Not Ten" by Susan Greenwald.

Learn those times with fun and rhymes!

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This is the second book (that is currently available) I'm reviewing with strategies and practice for learning the times tables.

There are (too) many people who believe that since we have calculators, "rote" memorization is a waste of time; it doesn't use "higher thinking skills."


Every day I work with people who are at least inconvenienced, and at times truly hampered by the simple fact that they haven't mastered the times tables. They can't develop or use those higher thinking skills because they're still trying to figure out the times tables.

In fact, I opened the book at work, since it was sent to that address. "Five times five is not ten." Hmmm... Was that a patronizing title?

I put the book up to take home.

Within the next two hours, two students had glibly stated that "five times five is ten." I took the book out and set it on the table.

I realized that, indeed, "five times five" is a benchmark for internalizing what multiplication is all about, and that the title was on the mark. It's also consistent with the content, which integrates multiplication with other math skills, which I consider a real strength.

One of the more egregious pedagogical practices (in my not-so-humble opinion) in math instruction is for skills to be taught in isolation until mastery... and then left behind. We don't have time for review, after all, especially with students who are already behind. So, the students pass our math class... and then bomb the next assessment of their overall skills because they can only do one kind of problem at a time. So... the next teacher compresses the curricululm still more (and, good heavens! we don't have time to learn the times tables!).

This book makes the connection between adding and multiplying - and then includes mixtures of multiplication and addition. Some students may require more practice in isolation before integration - but do integrate! That's *exactly* what will prevent college students from writing "1/10" when multiplying 1/5 times 1/5.

Parents and teachers should absolutely spend time in the beginning of the book, which outlines multisensory strategies that should be applied throughout the book.

This book's approach could be frustrating for some students with learning disabilities that would make the infusion of 8 + 7 and 8 X 7 and 8 - 7 an overwhelming visual and/or cognitive endeavor. However, for many students, it will demonstrate the importance of *thinking* about the operation they're being asked to perform, instead of taking that part for granted, and provide the chance to practice that application. One adaptation would be to practice the facts in isolation more before mixing them, and then to only mix two operations, then the third.

The book includes many strategies that incorporate visualization and verbal thinking. For instance, the strategy for learning the nines tables involves using auditory cues of "pretending to add." This tells you what the answer starts with. Thus, "9 + 5" is Fourtee....40.... and then... the next number is what you would add to four to *get* nine. So, nine times nine is Forty - Five. Another mnemonic is: to help remember 5 x 5, think "I see 2 5s.... " 25.

I think many students would benefit from spending more time exploring a time table in order first, to help reinforce the number sense and concepts of multiplication, but that's an easy adaptation. And, of course, learning the times tables should not be done in isolation; it should be an ongoing project integrated into non-rote learning.

This book has many other strategies I had not heard of, with lots of valuable review and practice. It is well worth adding to your arsenal of weapons so that more students will be absolutely confident that five times five is *not* ten.

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