How do you teach doubles facts? Flashcards? Worksheets? Let’s look at ways of teaching doubles that will keep students loving (or at least liking) math. We will delve past memorization and take a look at the heart of teaching math.
It Starts With Number Sense
The foundation of doubles facts is number sense. If your students have strong number sense skills, teaching doubles should be easy. Consider re-visiting number sense 0-20, before proceeding, if their number sense is not proficient. Depending on the grade of your students, number sense should have its own unit of study (K-3). I tend to begin every school year with number sense and visit it periodically through the year. If you have older students, incorporate number sense games into your program. Card games such as war, concentration, and snap are all favourites in our classroom.
Teaching Doubles Is Not Getting Students To Memorize The Facts!
I might be going out on a limb here, as many teachers think students need to memorize these facts. For a short while, I believed that. I grew up loving math and remember having to memorize addition (and multiplication) tables and facts. It seemed pretty easy to me. Some of my classmates experienced the opposite. It was around grade four when I noticed other students expressing their dislike for math. Was memorizing facts a catalyst for their dislike?
Math is About Patterns & Relationships
The challenge we teachers face every day is the lack of time to properly teach learning targets and objectives. We try to complete the learning objective so we can move on to the next one. With regards to math, we can miss teaching the context of numbers! This is another reason why building strong number sense in your students is so important. Math is about patterns, order, and relationship. I often tell students in grade one, “figure out the pattern, and you have figured out math.” That may or may not be true for all of it, particularly at the higher grades, but in the primary grades it is true for most of it.
Using Music For Teaching Doubles
There is a bunch of research to support using music to teach math concepts. Math is connected to many other subjects: music, art, science, technology. But when we sing, we are creating memories in our brain which reinforce that we are teaching students. Music is a powerful tool!
Formal & Informal Teaching Strategies
As teaching doubles or any other math concept is about relationships, we will need a variety of ways to show those relationships. We need this variety for two reasons. One, sometimes one strategy isn’t clear enough in its explanation. Have you ever listened to a speaker and thought, “why did it take them 20 minutes to explain something that could have been done in 5 minutes.” We all do it. But the opposite can be true too. Sometimes I have a habit of keeping formal lessons brief that I miss a component that, in my eyes, is assumed. Then when students ask me about something, I’m inwardly shaking my head at my own lack of teaching! Find your balance with teaching.
The second reason is that your students have different learning styles. Math should be as diverse as your students. Did you know that the majority of your students will be either visual or kinaesthetic? Yet, teachers often teach orally, which is usually your lowest percentage of students. Our lessons need to provide students with opportunities to display their learning.
Okay, I have a third reason, and that would be to bridge the gap in abilities found in your students. This will take some extra work. If you have a teacher assistant or parent helper, I would suggest utilizing them for photocopying, laminating and cutting tasks. Many math stations can be created with differentiation. I tend to offer differentiation in guided math groups, independent work, math games and sometimes apps (if they are available). Different ways to teach doubles include:
- music (see song above as an example)
- number talks (see below)
- math centres
- math games
- direct instruction
- small group instruction
- individual work
- apps and websites
- Boom Cards (see below) or Google Slides
- picture books
Teaching Doubles in Your Number Talks
Consider incorporating doubles into your number talks. If you’ve never tried number talks and/or are not familiar with them, check out this blog post, or you can watch my video below:
Using Math Centres to Reinforce Doubles Concepts
I will have doubles “stations” in our classroom for 2-3 weeks. With grades one and two, I usually have 5-6 stations. One of the students’ favourite stations is using the tablets. I upload 1-2 apps and Boom Learning so that they have choices. With Boom Learning, I set up an account for each child. The doubles deck featured below is a recent add to our class. One of my students asked if I would make a deck with pirates. Here you go!
The Importance of Teaching Doubles
Addition and subtraction of just two of the major learning objectives in primary math. Teaching doubles builds student awareness of manipulating numbers and establishes a foundation for basic operations. Doubles help with multiplication and exponents.
If you have never taught doubles, it’s a lot of fun. I love seeing students feel a sense of “I know this” when we sing or use flash cards. Are you a seasoned teacher? Then reflect on whether there is a new strategy to try. If you have any questions please comment below. If you are looking for more math strategies, be sure to check out my “Teach Math Like A Boss” pdf that is available. I will be adding more blog posts and videos on levelling up your math program.
In the meantime,