For third-graders at Old Fort Elementary (OFE), learning their multiplication tables came with a sweet reward.

“Multiplication is a large part of the third-grade curriculum,” said third-grade math teacher Niki Poplin of OFE. “We start the year out with learning the meaning of multiplication and various strategies to solve multiplication problems. Once students are comfortable with the strategies, we begin working on multiplication fact fluency.”

Math fact fluency is important because it forms building blocks for higher-level math concepts. These concepts are significantly easier, and the student will be better equipped to solve them if they have basic math fact fluency. Almost every third grade math standard in Common Core involves multiplication. As they move on to higher grade levels, they learn skills that continue to build on the previous skills addressed.

To provide students with a little extra motivation to master multiplication fact fluency, Poplin offers an incentive each year to students.

“We set a goal to learn multiplication facts 0-10 by a certain date,” she said. “This year, we kicked off our multiplication challenge in October.

Twenty-seven students out of the 54 third-graders at OFE reached that goal by the end of February, showing mastery of the multiplication facts 0-10.To reward these students, they took a walking field trip to Mr. Bob's Donuts in Old Fort where students were shown around the kitchen, learned a little about the process of making doughnuts and concluded with decorating and enjoying their own doughnut.

For those who didn’t quite meet this challenge, a new goal is set for them with the mindset of, “We may not be able to do this YET, but we will get it!”

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