May 2007

Alternate Multiplication Algorithms

Students today develop proficiency with many different algorithms for multiplication. This approach insures that each student will find a method that works effectively for him/her. Teachers model the different algorithms and encourage students to use and practice each method before selecting a favorite.

Lattice Multiplication

This algorithm works well for students who are developing multiplication fact fluency. Students may begin using a template to solve multiplication problems, but they quickly learn to draw their own lattice matrix to solve problems. Students love the method and it is very successful with both whole numbers and decimals. Teach students this multiplication algorithm as one of many different algorithms they may elect to use.

  • Read more about Lattice Multiplication and download lattice multiplication templates for student use with dry erase markers.

Napier's Bones

This multiplication method was developed by Napier. Students assemble "bones" for each digit and then "read" the answer between the diagonals as they learned to do in lattice multiplication.

  • Try Napier's Bones as an enrichment activity once students are comfortable with the lattice multiplication algorithm.
  • Download handout for Napier's Bones that students may cut out and use to replicate his multiplication method.

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Activities:   The activities on this site were developed by Terry Kawas and the teachers in districts where she has worked as a math consultant and coach or with students she has taught in college math-methods courses.   The activities are classroom-tested by teachers and appropriate modifications have been made to reflect this field-testing.   These activities are posted online in an effort to share quality activities and routines within the mathematics community.

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