Use stories that will make the facts more memorable. There are several books out there that do this. The ones I know of are Memorize in Minutes, the Times Tables, Times Tables the Fun Way, Addition the Fun Way, Times Tales (also comes on DVD). Shorter is better. An example might be, “You have to be 16 to drive a 4 x 4, because 4 x 4 = 16.” A lot of these also use mnemonics, which are one of the most effective techniques for students in special education. For example, “The door was put in the tree by the two elves.” (4 x 3 = 12) In this case the numbers are represented by similar sounding words, and the book will show an imaginative picture of the story.
Use music. There are a lot of CD’s and some DVD’s that do this. One that comes to mind is Schoolhouse Rock. I haven’t been fond of music, because most of the music is basically skip counting to a tune. So if a student forgets a fact, they have to sing through the whole song to get to the fact they need, which is often a larger fact, and thus near the end of the verse. It doesn’t lend itself to automaticity, or instant recall, very well.
Use tricks. This is especially easy with the 9’s. There are books for this too, such as Teach Your Child the Multiplication Tables: Fast, Fun & Easy with Dazzling Patterns, Grids & Tricks!
A lot of this info can also be found online. Of course, if your student makes up the method themselves, they will remember it best, but it takes a lot longer, so you really can’t use a lot of class time for it. It is a good way to help them learn to memorize any information on their own, however.
These techniques will help with being able to recall the facts correctly. But we want fluency, or automaticity, the ability to recall without thinking, which is a step further. Fluency takes practice, practice, practice. Just like getting to Carnegie Hall. In reality though, it is perfect practice that develops fluency and gets you to Carnegie Hall; bad practice won’t get you anywhere. In most cases, this calls for the help of someone older than the student, or a computer. Currently, Math Facts Pro does a great job of perfect practice. Soon, we will roll out an innovative way to make facts more memorable. Stay Tuned!