Value of knowing your Times Tables

Value of knowing your Times Tables

It is time well spent!

A Hurdle that can be Jumped!

Question: What do all of these Form 6 maths problems have in common?

  • Work out three quarters of 48
  • Express 105 as a product of its prime factors.
  • Multiply 479 by 34
  • Find the area of a triangle with base 8 metres and height 9 metres.
  • Add 3/8 and 7/12
  • Solve 7x + 2 = 37

Answer:  At the most basic, they all require the use of times tables in one form or another.

(See the websites: mymaths and ttrockstars)

The phrase ‘times tables’ elicits a wide range of responses amongst children: from the animated, hand-waving readiness.… to the slow slump in the chair – a perceptible embodiment of the dread that they feel within. 

Most students’ feelings lie between these extremes and are dependent on which times table is in question or how recently they gave them any thought.  

Whatever a student’s feelings about them, times tables are still fundamental to learning maths.

Confidence in the subject relies heavily on a robust knowledge of tables since they impact on or support most maths topics that are learned in school.  Their use goes well beyond the fairly unsubtle 7 × 8 = 56 as used in basic operations, including area, volume and ratios… to their use in simple applications such as division: 56 ÷ 8 = 7, fractions: ¼ of 24 = 6 and then onto identifying factors and multiples, identifying and utilising prime numbers, selecting lowest common denominators, simplifying fractions and solving equations.

Knowing the times tables, almost on reflex, frees up processing power for tackling the prescribed problems rather than taking the focus off the job at hand to deal with finding the answer to 7 × 8, for example.

By the time children reach Form 6 we like them to be comfortable and quick with the whole range of times tables and be able to identify the multiples of each times table too. 

Here are some learning targets:

1) Quick recall of the 2-12 times tables as they are usually written: 1 × 2 = 2, 2 × 2 = 4, etc.

2)    Know in which times tables multiples can be found (finding factors): 24 is in 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 12 times tables but 11 is only a multiple in the 1 and 11 tables.

3)    Know them ‘backwards’ (division): 72 ÷ 6 = 7,   66 ÷ 6 = 11, etc.

4)    Recognising multiples of a number. e.g.  Which of these numbers are multiples of 4?  10, 16, 28, 30

    5)   Divisibility tests for 2 to 9 times tables.

    By and large, times tables will need to be learned by practice and more practice, whether on paper, spoken out loud, playing games or on the wide range of apps available. 

    Learning times tables can be hard work but it doesn’t have to be boring and here are a couple of links to websites that Cargilfield subscribes to which can make learning them less arduous and, dare I say, fun!

    Mathematics presents a world of interesting puzzles and problems but sometimes it’s just the simple things that hold us back from enjoying these fully.

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