Math Notebooks (part 1 of a gazillion parts): Multiples are a Mystery

UPDATE 11/23/13:  This has turned out to be one of my most popular posts.  So this week, while I was going through this lesson with my after school Intervention group, I started thinking about how I could make it a little easier for me and my students.  
I am really excited about it.  So excited, that until midnight (Pacific Standard Time), it will be free in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!  If you do pick it up, please leave a little love!

Today is my first real day of vacation, and I am trapped in the bedroom with three anxious dogs while Prince Charming the Gardener and his minions hack away at the slope.  So I decided to use my time wisely and start restructuring my Math Notebooks.

Last year we used the single subject spiral notebooks that go on sale every summer at Target.  I am not sure we will do the same this next year.  At least for now, I am going to make my Master Math Notebook using a binder.  I think it will allow me to refer to the "plan,"and be better prepared.  Also, it will allow me to be more flexible with my planning and the order in which things just happen in the class. 

It is an inside joke with my Read 180 partner that we "get all the best kids."  Sometimes other teachers grumble about our "handpicked classes."  We just smile and nod, because it is the truth.  It is true that they are handpicked from a list of incoming students with their grades and test scores...we start from the bottom of the list and work our way up:)  Consequently, most of our 6th graders really struggle with Math too.  So this Interactive Math Notebook will be big on the basics.

Last year, my students really struggled with multiples and their times tables.  Learning a teacher lesson from them, this year's notebook is starting off with multiples.  I used Marcy Cook's 100 chart (from which of her wonderful books, I do not know:), and made them small enough so that two charts fit on one page.  For each page of multiples, we talk and shade in the multiples on the 100 chart before we cut it out to glue in the notebook (mistakes happen:). 
We start with the mantra, "factor times factor equals multiple."  Then we move on to finding the multiples of 2, and reviewing even and odd numbersAt the beginning of last year, most of my students could not pick out an even number out of a police lineup.  Then I have them box the 2, and highlight/shade the rest of the even numbers.  Why you ask?  Most of my students are visual learners and it helps them remember if they SEE the pattern.  Multiples are a mystery to most of them.  They do not realize that there are patterns in math.  They don't see the patterns in their heads.  So, we talk about the patterns, find the "rule" of the pattern, and make predictions. 
When we get to 7, we talk about the craziness of it.  Multiples of 7 can end in 0-9!  I remind them of that later on when we get to LCM's and GCD's.
For the multiples that have a "trick," we write down a few notes and tips to help us remember.  For example with the 9's, you write 0-9 and then put a 0 after the 9 and go back up 0-9.  Or adding the digits of the multiple and they equal 9.  

It seems simple and they take up space, but these were the most used pages in their Math Notebooks this year - especially when they were doing fractions.  I expect that when I do this with my new group, the comments and tips will turn out to be different.  But isn't that what makes teaching challenging, how different they are from year to year?:)  

I didn't want to insult you with pages 2-12, so complete set of pages are on my new Math and Stuff page (I hope).


  1. I love this! I am working on creating a "master" interactive math notebook this summer too. Looking forward to reading your blog to hear what you are doing!

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

    1. Thank you! This last year we squeezed 2 charts onto each page - there was no room for us to go back and add in divisibilty rules or other connections. So, this year I wanted to leave room for extras. It looks a little sparse now, but I think it will work out better:). Looking forward to seeing your Master too!

  2. Oh, I'm hoping to learn LOTS from your blog since I've never taught math before and will be teaching 6th next year. I, too, want to use math notebooks and have them take notes. Looking forward to more posting. :)


    1. Well, I promised at least a gazillion postings on Math Notebooks...:). Seriously, I hope my little blog gives you some ideas for your new grade level. We are not going to CORE standards until next year, so keep that in mind.