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Multiply and Divide with Sticks and Steps: Teach This Easy Method in Just Five Minutes

Multiply and Divide with Sticks and Steps: Teach This Easy Method in Just Five Minutes

By: Maureen Stearns
Publisher: Enrichment Books
Publication Date: January 2011
ISBN: 978-0972690850
Reviewed by: Eloise Michael
Review Date: February 21, 2011

Every teacher from elementary school to high school has seen students who know how to do long division but are slowed down because they don't know their multiplication facts, or, worse, they do a word problem right but get the wrong answer because of a multiplication error. Multiply and Divide with Sticks and Steps is a tool to help these kids be successful at school. Teachers, parents, and, most importantly, children will be able to learn the method in minutes. There is no repeated adding in the Sticks and Steps method, and nothing to memorize, so kids who are willing to give it a try should get the right answer every time.

If the method is so easy to learn, you may ask, what is the rest of the book about? Author Maureen Stearns outlines ways to use Sticks and Steps to help with multi-digit multiplication, long division, and other types of math problems. She also points out short cuts which will make the Sticks and Steps method more practical.

Sticks and Steps involves counting up to the product of two numbers. If the problem is 7x8, this could take a little time. However, students write the multiples of 7 as they go. Once students are comfortable with Sticks and Steps, they can learn to use this list of multiples to find the answer to 7x4-- it's already in the list!-- or 7x9-- just add another step! Students will begin to create something like a multiplication chart, but one they understand.

Sticks and Steps requires kids to write the multiples of a number each time they do a problem. In the short term, they are getting the correct answers in class and getting their homework done without stress. As they complete their assignments, kids will begin to remember the multiples they are writing along the way. Stearns outlines shortcuts that kids can use as they begin to remember some of the facts.

Sticks and Steps will help kids get their school assignments done while working toward the goal of memorizing the multiplication facts. It is not a tool for teaching the concepts of multi-digit multiplication and long division, however. In these sections Stearns assumes that students have already learned how to regroup when multiplying and that they know the algorithm for long division.

It can be extremely discouraging for kids who know how to do long division when they get half the problems wrong because of multiplication errors. Sticks and Steps can help these students feel confident and positive about the new skills they are learning-- long division for example-- while practicing single digit multiplication. Students will not be avoiding multiplication practice by using a chart. Instead they will be drilling the facts while they also complete assignments.

In most schools kid who do not memorize multiplication facts as quickly as their classmates get left behind. Parents trying to help their children with long division or three-digit multiplication can use Multiply and Divide with Sticks and Steps to take the stress out of homework time and to help their kids feel successful at school. Teachers and parents might also decide to use this method with younger children who are just learning to multiply. As these kids are learning the concept of multiplication and doing homework problems like 4x3, they will also be practicing the multiplication facts. They may even have them memorized by the time they get to long division. Teachers and parents, whether they are teaching multiplication for the first time or looking for a remedial tool, can be sure that kids will get the right answers using Sticks and Steps.

Quill says: An easy-to-learn, foolproof method to help kids get the right answers every time.

For more information on Multiply and Divide with Sticks and Steps: Teach This Easy Method in Just Five Minutes, please visit the book's website at:

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