Today I got a taste of reality. My students are very low in math. Its an 8th grade class and they are suppose to be doing Algebra. They are struggling with their multiplication facts. I need help this is my first year teaching Math. Any suggestions on where to start them? I know I have to assess them but on everything? Any feedback would help.

Do you have a math department chair? A special ed department chair? Perhaps you have a colleague who works in the elementary school that feeds into yours? This would be a great resource to get elementary level tests. I think that with the information that you have so far, this is what makes it SO important to assess them. Perhaps you will need to spend some time on remedial skills. Are there other math class options (lower levels than what you teach?) Are you a special ed class? Co-Teach? Replacement/Resource? I think if you have your data to show that the students are at ___ level in their math skills, all that you can do is expose them to the grade level stuff but focus a lot on those remedial skills so you can improve their levels... I am sure this is not the first time this has happened to someone! Reach out - some sort of coordinator may have materials for you. Good luck!

I would work on those multiplication facts as I went ahead in algebra. You can solve a LOT of equations without the use of multiplication, or with a minimal amount. Likewise, there's a LOT you can do with polynomials without it. And, as much as it really pains me to say this: can they use calculators for big tests as you work on improving their basic skills? When I taught 7th grade, my Do Now every single day was times tables. The sheer repetitition helped a LOT! Those kids are now Juniors, and I have them for SAT prep-- their skills are wonderful! So my advice is that you keep going with the syllabus even as you work on their skills. If necessary, keep the actual numbers in the problems fairly simple at first as you show them the algebraic processes; you can always bump up the numbers as the year goes on.

I second the calculator idea! At this point in our lives, we do get to use calculators! Just be certain that this is something they'd be allowed to use on the state test. We had kids at my school in TX who were allowed to use a times table chart during the state test, because they simply could never memorize their facts.

To be honest, I HATED making that suggestion I think that a typical 12 year old should have basic arithmetic facts at his fingertips. But that's what SHOULD be; not what IS in this particular case. Since the teacher is a SPED teacher, it may very well be the answer.

I have a program from Sopris West called You Can Be Algebra Ready. I used it when I taught 8th grade resource. It broke down the Algebra into easy to understand steps. The lessons were easy to follow and the students did really well with it. I didn't think they could do it, but they did! They used calculators as well, sometimes the students with LD cannot remember all their facts and the calculator takes that stress off of them.

If students are strugging with their multiplication facts, they either didn't have enough drill when they were first taught multiplication or they need to be taught using a system approach. For example, times 4 is a double plus a double. Times 8 is times four doubled. Show them the trick were they fold under a finger to solve for times 9. Linda TeachAllKids

I agree. I've had students who will never, ever know all of their multiplication facts, no matter how long they drill and practice. For them, grade level math was possible with the accommodations of using a calculator or multiplication chart for the facts.