Today's class explored the importance of mental math. Every day we are faced with numerous situations that may require a quick calculation. How much should I tip the waitress for this meal? How many coins should I put in the parking meter? How much longer should I work out to get an hour of exercise? About how much will my groceries cost? How long will my commute take at this speed? How much will this cute shirt cost at the marked down price? These are typical questions that I am faced with every week (except that I am a waitress so I am actually figuring out in my head if the tip that a customer left was good or not). It is nearly impossible to go a day without having to do mental math.

I think that it is important to introduce students to mental math strategies at a young age because by the time they are faced with real-world situations involving a quick calculation, they will not be intimidated. They will be able to solve a simple problem or estimation with ease. This comes with much practice; however, so it is crucial that students have the necessary time to develop and practice these strategies. I think that it is a great idea to have a time block allocated just to mental math each day.

Class began with a neat activity on the SmartBoard. An activity like this would be great for students because it not only gets them to apply mental math strategies in real time but it gets them up and out of their seats. Speaking of strategies, what are they?

This is probably one of the most useful pieces of paper I have seen in a long time. It is like a cheat sheet to all the mental math out there. For someone who appreciates math as much as I do, this sheet of strategies is gold. If only I had this sheet when I was in elementary school!

Soon after establishing these strategies, my mind began racing at all of the doors that this sheet could allow students to open. By practicing these strategies, students could develop their reasoning skills because they could be asked why they chose a particular one to solve a question. Students could practice their problem solving skills as well because a quick calculation could be part of a bigger problem such as a word problem that required an explanation. Lots of possibilities here.

Soon after establishing these strategies, my mind began racing at all of the doors that this sheet could allow students to open. By practicing these strategies, students could develop their reasoning skills because they could be asked why they chose a particular one to solve a question. Students could practice their problem solving skills as well because a quick calculation could be part of a bigger problem such as a word problem that required an explanation. Lots of possibilities here.

Yes, math can be fun! When you are able to answer questions, apply strategies and feel confident in what you are doing, math can be quite painless. Although that not every one of my future students will say math is their favourite, my goal is to have my math classroom be a place that is not intimidating. I want students to feel comfortable exploring strategies and asking questions.

The use of washable crayons and plastic plates is genius. So simple yet so effective. This is a great way to evaluate students because as the teacher, you can see all of the students' answers when they raise their plates. If a student is constantly struggling to raise their plate on time, you know that they will need more time to develop the mental math strategies.

Games are also fun to throw in there because, as I have mentioned in earlier posts, it helps disguise learning in a well known activity, for example Bingo. With a partner, we played a quick round or two or Bingo with the 9 times tables. Great... the 9's are not my best and for some reason they never stick with me. Thank goodness for mental math strategies and tricks! Hopefully the days of memorizing all of the multiplication charts are over for good.

The use of washable crayons and plastic plates is genius. So simple yet so effective. This is a great way to evaluate students because as the teacher, you can see all of the students' answers when they raise their plates. If a student is constantly struggling to raise their plate on time, you know that they will need more time to develop the mental math strategies.

Games are also fun to throw in there because, as I have mentioned in earlier posts, it helps disguise learning in a well known activity, for example Bingo. With a partner, we played a quick round or two or Bingo with the 9 times tables. Great... the 9's are not my best and for some reason they never stick with me. Thank goodness for mental math strategies and tricks! Hopefully the days of memorizing all of the multiplication charts are over for good.