1. Christina Tondevold Post author

    Around the World!!!! The only memory that I have is trying to be the kid who could make it around the world…the kid in the back row of the class would go stand next to the person in front of them, teacher would flash a math fact and first person to say the answer would advance to the next person in front. Goal was to make it all the way around the room without having to sit. I was good at it, cause I was a good memorizer….but those kinds of experiences are the ones that many people hated.

  2. Ann Elise

    I really don’t have any memories of how I learned my math facts. The only memory I have of elementary math was in 6th grade we would have blank, brownish paper and we needed to do problem after problem of whatever we were working on. Not a word problem in sight. Since I was speedy and accurate, I would finish first. I was then able to correct my classmates’ papers. I wonder now what my classmates thought of that.

  3. Kelly Andrews

    The All-Star Board….I so badly wanted to accurately complete my timed fact test and get my name on a star so it could be hung on the All-Star bulletin board. To add insult to injury, those who had passed and received their star were able to head out to recess early while those who had not passed were delayed as they had to retake the timed fact test each day. I wasn’t first nor last, but I can still remember my name on that bright red star and how relieved I was when it was hanging on that darn board in from of the class! Ironically, this was 5th grade and not 3rd like it is today.

    1. Ann Elise

      Wow! And we wonder why some students come to feel that math isn’t meant for them. I cringed as I read your entry and ached for you as I imagined the feelings as others got to out to recess while you had to retake a timed test. Just awful. I would actually love it if our Praxis teaching tests would relieve the time pressure. When stressed, our brains shut down. It’s a lose-lose situation.

  4. Marcy Godesa

    Timed tests!!! I specifically remember hiding behind my folder, which we used to hide our work, and crying about not competing my timed fact test in the allotted time. I remember the chart that everyone got to put their stickers on when they moved up to the next level. Can you tell I am still traumatized?!?!

    1. Ann Elise

      I think traumatized is such a good word, Marcy. I have taught a few math methods classes now and I ask these preservice teachers to rate their enjoyment of math from 1-10. The overwhelming majority of them have given it between 1 and 3. Several have asked if they could give it a negative number! And they all want to be elementary school teachers! Math will be a part of their lives. When I ask them why they describe math with words like “hate” and “despise” and “phobic” they all mention those dreaded timed tests. Ugh!

  5. Wendy Courter

    I went to elementary school in the 70s. I clearly remember doing timed tests, but I don’t remember earning anything for learning them. Facts came easy to me, so I don’t remember the timed tests being a problem. I do remember having this calculator thing that looked like an owl that I practiced my facts on. I never learned any strategies for getting to facts I didn’t know, just memorized them.

    1. Ann Elise

      I think those of us who were able to memorize the facts easily were saved from so much frustration. I felt like I hit a wall in high school when I took calculus. I had never understood how any of the math I was learning connected together. My son was a Physics major in college and I asked him once if he could describe Calculus in layman’s terms. He said, “Mom, it’s real life.” Whoa! I certainly didn’t get that impression when I was taking the class!

  6. Heather Girroir

    Ugh! Something I really struggled with! No good at memorization, which was the only way it was taught when I was young. Timed tests, flash cards… I always had the comment, “needs to practice her math facts” on my report card!

    1. Ann Elise

      I’m sure I was guilty of putting that comment on a couple of report cards back in my early days of teaching. Oh, if I could only go back in time….

  7. Lorna Holcombe

    I remember the use of the Mad Minute on a daily basis, flash cards, singing School House Rock songs, as well as computer based games where we would shoot at math facts before the timer went out to solve them.

  8. Beate Pryor

    Timed test! I even remember my dad making extra copies for me to study at home. I also remember playing “around the world” with flash cards.

  9. Megan Purlee

    I couldn’t remember, so I called my mom. 🙂 She said I had the exact same page of math fact homework every night until I passed the corresponding timed test. No wonder I chose not to remember it!

  10. Amy Haaland

    I think memorizing the facts was not a problem for me. At least I don’t feel any trauma over fact memory. The trauma hit me when I was a little older and there was no correlation between facts and understanding.

  11. Kelly Sickle

    Math fact races on the chalkboard. My math was nothing but memorizing. That is why I have so enjoyed my classes, and I now understand many more math concepts than I ever did. I just want all students to learn math conceptually and I want to help teachers want to make that change to conceptually learning.

  12. Kristen Kroll

    I just remember the timed tests. I don’t think I was ever concerned or bothered by doing the timed tests. I think that was the only part of math I was good at. I just had to memorization not really apply.

  13. Rosalba McFadden

    The only third grade memory I have is my teacher making us copy the facts she wrote on the board over and over. I’m sure she had to have taught us other stuff- just can’t remember any of it.

  14. Lisa Mills

    From elementary school I remember practicing math facts with flash cards – and like many others playing “Around the World”. I had a teacher give me a great trick for memorizing my “hard fact” 7 X 8. Then, once I got to middle/junior high school math got really hard – the classic word problem that starts out : Two trains leave a station, train A is… always gave me hives! I just didn’t get how to do word problems! I remember getting all the even problems assigned as homework – because the odd ones had the answer in the back of the book. I would try to find one like the one I was stuck on and work my way backwards from the answer but usually I couldn’t figure out how they got that answer!

  15. Wanda Johnson

    I can remember my mother drilling me on multiplication tables with flash cards. I also remember struggling with mental math – especially related to money.

    1. Carolyn Neill

      Me too, I remember many evenings and weekend afternoons spent practising the multiplication tables with my Mom.

  16. Jennifer Jensen

    I remember one minute drills and lots and lots of flash cards.

  17. Jocelyn Albernaz

    Ugh …timed fluency tests! Every Friday we would take a timed test and try to move on to the next level. As soon as the timer started, my stomach would churn. Of course we were concerned about which level we were on- always fearful that we weren’t keeping up with our peers. I honestly cannot remember any discussion about math fact strategies…it was sheer memorization.

  18. Carolyn Neill

    Like Wanda, I have very vivid memories of time spend doing multiplication tables at home with my Mom, usually during the evenings and weekend afternoons.

  19. Betsy Frates

    So many addition and subtraction flash cards. Many timed tests with multiplication and division. My dad was an accountant so the algorithm and memorization was what worked for him so he always worked with us to help us memorize.

  20. Tara Russell

    Not exactly… but I do remember “seeing dots in my head”, and using them to count on, which makes me smile as I type this! I also remember that my favorite numbers were and still are 5 and 10. It bothered my sister that 5 was an odd number and she didn’t think it should be a favorite. Her favorite numbers were and are 2 and 4. Now I wonder if somehow I saw the power of the benchmarks of 5 and 10 and she saw the power of doubles!

  21. Torri Rankl

    My memories are flash cards and workbook pages. Sad. 🙁

  22. Rachael Betscha

    In 3rd grade I was required to memorize the multiplication facts using songs and catchy phrases- I still know these songs today. Up until I really began to understand numbers and how they worked as an adult (thanks to great college professors and people like Christina T.) I would always sing these songs and had little understanding of number sense or how to help kids learn/”catch” it.

  23. Meredith Tavary

    I remember the timed tests for addition and multiplication. I didn’t mind these tests but I didn’t necessarily like them either. Math wasn’t a favorite subject but it was something that I could learn to do and just do the steps. I didn’t have much math sense.

  24. Carrie Plank

    Memorization…and if you did not do well on the timed test, you had to stay after school and practice with flashcards and then take the test again. This started in 3rd grade with multiplication. My mother was a former teacher, and although I did not have to stay after school, she went and told them it was wrong to be sending kids to walk home without any crossing guards on post. I think she was instrumental in having the policy changed.

  25. Prunie Skocelas

    My memory is of flash cards and timed tests every Friday. Math came easy for me so I did okay. Sadly, I remember a ton of math worksheets, lots of math problems for homework too.

  26. Davita Fortier

    My most vivid memory is learning multiplication facts in third grade. The teacher would call your name and you would stand up next to your desk. Then she would say, please do your 3’s table. I would start reciting the table in front of the whole class and if I did it correctly she would say good and have me sit down and then move on to another child for a different table. If you were incorrect, she would ask you to sit and have another child do the same table. I remember being very nervous but I was VERY good at memorizing so I always did well. I would not say I had great strategies but I could remember just about anything luckily.

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