As I said in my last blog post, my kids continue to struggle with some of their multiplication facts, which causes problems as we move on to higher levels of math.  So it was timely that my Principal mentioned a finger calculator another teacher was instructing her kids to use at a neighboring elementary school.  He had heard about it at his weekly Principal’s meeting and immediately called the teacher to see if our classes could Skype with each other!

Following several emails and discussions about borrowing a webcam on their end, Mrs. T’s class and my class Skyped.  They were able to teach us about this wonderful tool they were using to ease the problem of memorizing the difficult multiplication facts, those pesky 6’s, 7’s, and 8’s.

My kids were thrilled!  First to “see” and share ideas with other kids from across the county, and second to add another tool to their multiplication toolbox!  Mrs. T’s kids were great!  After showing us the basic concept (she had even written the numbers on her fingers for us!), Mrs. T let her kids solve problems, holding up their hands in front of the camera, that my kids called out as being difficult.  It was a wonderful interaction!  And, what a great tool; one that you will always have with you in a jam (or on the NC End of Grade tests).

Directly after the Skype session my kids had to take our county’s quarterly math assessment.  It was fantastic to see them applying the skills the other class had just shared!  Many of them talked to me at break time a while later about how it had helped them right away.  As Mrs. T stated in our Skype session, the finger calculator is not meant to replace memorization, but as the kids use it more and more, hopefully they will just begin to remember the correct answers.

I created a visual with the finger calculator rules to post on the Math Wall in our room, so my kids will always remember how to use it.  Below you can see what they taught us!  We’ve also decided to Skype with each other throughout the year on other topics!  Isn’t collaborating in the digital age fun?!

Using Your Finger Calculator

Cross Blogged at Ignite!Learning


About kcollazo

4th/5th grade teacher looping in 1:1 netbook initiative!

2 responses »

  1. Loved the idea of the hand calculator, but I can’t figure it out. I need someone to teach me too. I teach 5th grade in Sioux Rapids, IA and my students are having the same difficulty. We do have Skype too and would love to have your students teach my students and me. Let me know what you think. THANKS!
    My Skype username is mhuebner4
    Marla Huebner

    • kcollazo says:

      We’d love to Skype with you, and teach you what we learned! You have a fantastic class site! Our kids also blog, so they’d have a lot to talk about when we do Skype! My Skype name is kcollazo. If you would please email us at we can arrange a good time to “meet” each other face to face!

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