Monday, January 31, 2011

Multiply and Divide with Sticks and Steps®: Teach this Easy Method in Just 5 Minutes




Reviewed by Christine Watson for Reader Views 


Maureen Stearns obviously has experience working with students.  In her book, "Multiply and Divide with Sticks and Steps®," she shares her clear and simple system for multiplying that I plan to use with my students from here on out.  As a teacher and administrator, I have seen many methods attempted to help students gain understanding of multiplication.  An important aspect to Ms. Stearns' "sticks and steps" method is that she shows concretely what multiplication is, instead of just having students memorize the times tables.  With a better understanding of why multiplication is used, it's much easier for students to make sense of the process.  Without that understanding, true learning is not taking place. 


I am grateful to Ms. Stearns for creating a book that teaches us all how to help students understand several math concepts with better clarity.  She not only teaches multiplication, but also shows how the method works with division, least common multiples, and square roots.  She also uses bigger numbers to show how the process works correctly every time. 


The book is simple to read and understand, and then teach to students.  Students could even read this book and understand it themselves.  There are step-by-step instructions as well as sample problems showing the how the process works.  There is a natural flow throughout the book as concepts get more difficult and problems can still be solved using her method. 


I highly recommend "Multiply and Divide with Sticks and Steps®" to any teacher looking to find a concrete way to teach multiplication and division that literally shows students on paper what is happening during the process.  This is a must-have for math teachers with struggling students.  I will be passing this book along to all of my teachers.

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