Hacking Multiplication Tables with Flashcard Engine One

This post shows you how to use Flash Card Engine One to learn multiplication tables. We give you the method of Flash Card Engine One and a training plan you can mentor your student(s) through.

Flash Card Engine One is the name we give to a specific effective way of using flash cards. Efficiency is very important to the Polemics Math method. Students of any age only have a limited attention and ability to fully engage the content. Flash Card Engine One is specifically designed to:

  • Quickly memorize concepts (multiplication tables)
  • Identify gaps in knowledge
  • Reinforce existing knowledge

In this post we’ll be using multiplication tables as our example use of Flash Card Engine One. First build a set of flash cards with a question on one side and the answer on the other side. (Be careful not to use a marker that bleeds though the card.)

Summary:Present the cards to the student and sort them into Easy, Medium and Spicy (hard) piles depending on how easy the student answers the question. Work with the various piles promoting cards to the easy pile or demoting cards to the Medium and Spicy piles. Cards are promoted from the Easy pile to the Done pile when the Student displays clear mastery.

The Training Plan:

1. Create a card for each multiplication fact. We’ll be going up through 10 so 100 cards are needed. Feel free to skip 1 x __ to save some cards and time.

2. Day 1:Start with the first 20 cards.

3. Training Session 1

3a. Go through the cards with the student. If they get the answer correct right away you can place the card in the Easy Pile. If they get the answer wrong right away, show the right answer and recycle it in the deck. If they struggle and get the answer right place the card in the Medium Pile.

3b. As you work your way down you’ll have an Easy Pile, Medium Pile and the Spicy Pile (The Spicy Pile is for those cards the student is having difficulty with; call it the Spicy Pile and not the hard pile because one of our main goals is to trach a hard thing without making the student hate math or the training moment they are in. Bonus points if you can say Spicy Pile in a foreign accent that makes the student laugh) Spend ten minutes or less on Training Session 1.

4. Hip Pocket Training. In Training Session 1 you left with the Spicy Pile of hard cards. Remember which ones the Student had difficulty with and pull one or two out at odd intervals. At the dinner table, “Hey what was 3 x 8 again?”. At bed time, “Good night, wait I forgot what was 3 x 8 again?” or any other time. This Hip Pocket Training uses Spaced Repetition to cement the content.

5. Training Session 2

5a. Warm Up: Hit the easy pile and get it out of the way. If the Student knocks out the answers place these in the done pile. If the student gets a card wrong or has trouble keep it in the easy pile or demote the card to the Medium Pile.

5b. Medium Pile: Now hit the medium pile. Same rules apply. An easy answer promotes the card to the easy pile. A wrong answer or trouble answering keep it in the Medium Pile or demote it to the Spicy Pile. (demote to Spicy Pile sparingly, we want to keep that as the cards we are really having trouble with)

5c. Scrap with the Spicy Pile: Work through the Spicy Pile answering and working through them. This should be the scrappy part of the session where your practicing the hardest cards. Do not demand perfection, just spend a few minutes in the growth mindset that you are filling those holes in the knowledge.

5d. End with a ReMix: At some point when working with a small set of Spice Pile cards the student can ‘memorize the card’ this happens when the student has seen the card enough that they remember what’s on the other side based on how the card looks and not necessarily based on the question. For training day to you ReMix the Medium and Spicy Pile and hit the cards one time resorting them into Medium and Spicy cards. Be sure not to promote any Spicy cards directly into the Easy Pile. We want to use the next training Session to verify that we did indeed learn the card.

6. Hip Pocket Trainingsame as the first, look for fun ways to inject a Spicy card into the Student’s daily life. Make a copy of one of the cards and put it in their lunch box or a place they will see it or something else fun.

From here the process repeats each day. Add a number of cards. Don’t be tied to any number of quotas, the Easy cards should be dropping off into the done pile as new cards are being presented. Some cards will quickly go into the done pile as things like [4 x 7] and [7 x 4] are two cards with the same well-known answer.

For a little variation you can add in a Fire Round. In a Fire Round you’ll have a handful of cards (15-20) of various difficulty. You’ll present the cards to the student until the student gets a card wrong. When wrong make a buzzing sound, reshuffle all the cards and start over. The Fire Round is over when the Student makes it through all of the cards without a single failure. We stress here, this is supposed to be fun and not a grind. The struggle is important (like how an athlete trains) but excessive difficulty kills morale which is essential for the Student’s long-term training plan.

Hope you enjoyed this post. Flash Card Engine One will soon be in an iOS and Android Application, be sure you are on our mailing list and following on social media and look for the announcement. If you have your own Flash Card method, we’d love to hear about it. Send us email at info@polemicsmath.com.