I don’t know about your kids, but my 5th graders still struggle with many of their multiplication facts! Yes, they have strategies to figure them out, mainly repetitive adding (using their fingers, no doubt), but that takes a long time! And when you are working on a long division problem strategies like that could take hours, say nothing about the additional pressure if you’re working on a timed standardized test!
The kids have had some success with catchy songs they learned in the lower grades, but still continue to struggle, especially with those tricky 6, 7, and 8’s! Remembering the old proverb that when you teach you learn, I decided to have the kids make up their own multiplication mastery tool.
Sometimes a web tool comes along, and I think, “Oh that is adorable! How could I use this to help my kids master a part of the curriculum or motivate their love of learning in a meaningful way?” Zooburst was one of those tools. Zooburst is a wonderful web application that allows you to create unique digital 3D pop-up books. So I decided to have my kids create catchy rhyming poems using their most troubling multiplication fact group, and turn them into digital pop-up books.
I learned several things during this process. One is that many of my kids didn’t understand rhyme patterns, and how to create them. I started the project by creating my own poem using the 3’s. The kids were told they had to follow the same pattern I had throughout their own poems. For example, each line had to start with the fact and end with a rhyming image. Like, “3 x 2 is 6, go pick up those sticks!” After we read through my entire poem so they could get the hang of the pattern rule, I showed them a 3D book I had started in Zooburst to go with my poem. By doing this they would see the end product they were aiming for. They would better understand that while creating their poem, they would need to be thinking about how they could display the content using objects in the book.
Well, their interest was certainly piqued! Their first step was to create their poem using Microsoft Word. They then saved their poems into their Math Home folders on our school’s server (just in case!) and transferred them to my computer using our new Smart Sync software. Smooth as silk! I was able to review their poems almost immediately and send a personal message to their computer screen (using Sync) that they were good to go, or that they needed to make a few changes first. Several were asked to come to my table so we could work together on the rhymes. I just took for granted that 5th graders knew how to rhyme! Who knew?
Following the poem “go ahead”, they were free to create wonderful 3D books of their poems. The free version of Zooburst allows you to create 10 books (simultaneously) per account. So, because I have 20 students, I created several accounts using our class Gmail account. After seeing how wonderfully Zooburst works (absolutely no gliches or losses of data), we might just invest in their Premium version which allows teachers to manage entire classes of kids.
Some of the books are hysterically clever! I am hoping that because they had to write the poem and then choose characters and objects to “act out” the phrases in their books, they might just picture their nutty creation next time they get stuck on 8 x 7 or 7 x 6! We’ll see! Zooburst also allows you to share (email or embed, or add to the Zooburst gallery) your books when you’re finished, so you can check out all the kids’ books which have been completed and embedded on our wiki! Lots of fun!