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Teaching the fundamentals of mathematics is important, but it’s not always easy, and students aren’t always motivated. The concepts of multiplying and dividing may seem difficult for young students. For some, memorizing multiplication and division facts just isn’t effective. Hopscotch Math is a new approach that assists in breaking some of these barriers.
The program was developed by Paul Schroeder, who currently teaches third-grade in Nevis, Minnesota. He found inspiration for writing this INTERACT program from the students who struggled with multiplication and division facts in his elementary math classes over the years.
Each lesson in Hopscotch Math teaches concepts through short stories, phrases, or an activity. Students have fun jumping through the hopscotch patterns and reciting their multiplication tables. Memorization of facts isn’t always the best method for learning, and, if emphasized too much, can neglect higher-order thinking levels that are equally as important. But for students to effectively achieve “evaluating and creating levels of thinking, they must have knowledge, facts, data or information in their brains to combine into something new, or which to judge relative importance or value.”
The program is designed to run 18 class periods, but time can vary depending on the amount of time taken between lessons for practice and peer tutoring. The eight lessons each last about one hour. The Unit Time Chart offers a guideline for covering all multiplication and division facts, including extra review days.
Hopscotch Math appeals to student interest and encourages students to take an active part in their learning. With help from this unit, students learn patterns, short stories, and/or phrases that directly relate to their comprehension of their multiplication facts—2 through 9. Students will then transfer these skills and knowledge as they complete multiplication and division worksheets, use flash cards, and improve their performance on multiplication and division exams. “Learning Logs” provide a chance for students to reflect on how and what they have learned. Students keep a daily journal and take pre and post tests to chart their progress.
Hopscotch Math is most effectively used in a cooperative instructional environment, both for students and teachers. Author Paul Schroeder suggests that teachers use the unit cooperatively with colleagues for three reasons:
The hopping patterns students create in Hopscotch Math are accessible to and can be shared by all students on sidewalks, in the gym, and on the playground. Students will spontaneously create their own activities to further reinforce their understanding and comprehension of multiplication and division skills, providing for them the math skills foundation they need for mastering future mathematical—and thus real-life—challenges.
 “When Rote Learning Makes Sense” by Ben Johnson, Edutopia, February 26, 2010