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NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Greg Tang takes on the times tables, teaching kids innovative ways to multiply numbers and derive answers WITHOUT memorization.
Four is very fast to do when you multiply by 2.
Here's a little good advice --
please just always double twice!
BEST OF TIMES gives kids an intuitive understanding of multiplication, encouraging them to arrive at answers on their own rather than memorizing the times tables. A child who can multiply by two, for instance, can multiply by four and even eight! Likewise, times six builds on times two and times three.With his common-sense approach, Greg Tang encourages kids to solve problems creatively, building both their skills and their confidence.
An Interview with Greg Tang
Q. How did you get started on your mission to change the way kids think about math?
A. Several years ago, I went back to school to become a high school math teacher. While I was student teaching in New York City, I realized that many of the difficulties my students were having with algebra could be traced back to the way they were taught arithmetic, through repetition and memorization. I also came to believe that this traditional way of teaching was the reason why many students did not like or enjoy math. I set out to try to change things, and since then have been working to develop an intuitive approach to math that is based on common sense, creative thinking, and fun!
Q. Your books all use riddles and art to "teach" math, which is a very different approach than in most classrooms. Why do you think this approach is important?
A. I think that for kids to be good in anything, including math, they've got to like it. So we need to do our best to make math fun and exciting. When we teach reading we use storybooks filled with colorful pictures. When we teach science we conduct lively, hands-on experiments. In teaching math, I believe integrating language and art is critical. Words and images have the power to communicate mathematical reasoning and insight, and at the same time make connections to a world of things -- nature, science, stories, and art -- that matter to kids. I use poems in my books because I think kids enjoy and appreciate clever rhymes. I also think it's important to add a game element to learning, which I incorporate through riddles.
Q. Of the three books you've published so far, two titles, The Grapes of Math and The Best of Times are for ages 7-10, and one, Math for All Seasons, is for ages 5-8. How do you see kids at these different age levels using these books?
A. Math For All Seasons is great for younger kids (ages 5-8) who are making the transition from counting to arithmetic. This book teaches intuitive ways to group and add numbers, and begins laying the foundation for higher math by introducing simple but important problem-solving strategies. For kids who are a little older (7-10), The Grapes of Math offers a fun and challenging way to sharpen both computational and problem-solving skills. Kids (and adults!) seem to really enjoy solving the riddles, which are also designed to help smooth the transition from adding to multiplying. When kids are ready for multiplication, The Best of Times (ages 7-10) offers an intuitive approach to mastering the times tables. Instead of taking a short-term strategy based on repetition and memorization, the focus of this book is on helping children develop a deeper level of understanding. This book teaches kids to multiply numbers of any size quickly in their heads, and from my experience, they really have fun doing it!