As with all topics, the stronger your main curricular resource is the better. There have been years when I used a heavily modified version of Investigations for 3rd/4th Grade, but now I don’t find it as useful.
I assume that most teachers do have some main curricular resource for math, so here are the things that I use to supplement:
- The Beast Academy books have lots of great puzzle and problem ideas
- The Product Game and The Factor Game
- For a while I found the Number Talks book useful, but I don’t use it much any more. Not sure why, it just stopped being useful to me. I’m not a zealot about using strategies vs. memorizing facts — my take is we should teach both.
- Heidi Fessenden and I once made a plan for how kids will progress through facts which I still like and use.
- Here are some practice modes that I use — backwards/forwards practice, and using frames with dice. I’m actually using frames with dice later today.
- I have found flash cards an invaluable tool for multiplication, and I’ve found practice structures that I think work well.
- Lots of good stuff from Don Steward.
- I usually toss in an Open Middle (TM) problem or two into a unit.
- I play How Close to 100, and it’s nice.
There are a lot of people with strong disagreements about how to teach multiplication. As in a lot of areas of my teaching, I see myself as being one of those annoying people that accepts each side’s critique of the other. I aim to teach mental strategies while also teaching facts for memory and skills for automaticity. I will very clearly explain both mental strategies and written procedures, though not as early as the traditional math crowd would prefer.
I don’t know. Part of this certainly has to do with the sort of place where I teach. The kids are for the most part not poor, I’m not under state test pressure, and the kids don’t have grades. My goals are for kids to know their stuff and be prepared for future coursework, but I also want them to have fun, and I don’t feel as if those goals are in tension in my current situation. (At other places that I’ve taught, though, I have felt those sorts of tensions.)
I do think that it can be a big mistake to focus only on strategies, as I’ve seen kids left behind on their fact knowledge when I taught that way. I wrote at length about this in Teaching Rachel.
I’m sure other resources will come to mind and I’ll try to add them to this post. Feel free to drop your own favorite resources in the comments.