EL Support Lesson

Strategies Lead to Understanding

While memorization is important when it comes to multiplication facts, a foundation of understanding is key, too! Use this lesson on its own or as a pre-lesson for *Hands-On Multiplication*.
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theHands-On MultiplicationLesson plan.
GradeSubjectView aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for theHands-On MultiplicationLesson plan.

Students will be able to multiply up to the ten times table.


Students will be able to explain multiplication strategies and key terminology using peer supports.

(3 minutes)
Teach Background Knowledge TemplateWrite Student-Facing Language Objectives ReferenceVocabulary Cards: Strategies Lead to UnderstandingGlossary: Strategies Lead to Understanding
  • Tell students that you are going to display images and you want them to think about what they are looking at. Explain that they will then discuss their observations with a partner before sharing with the whole group.
  • Display images of different multiplication strategies without numbers. For example, show skip counting as blank lines separated by commas in a sequence. Give students time to think to themselves.
  • Instruct students to turn and talk to a partner about what they noticed about the images. Listen for students to name the strategies and make the connection to multiplication. Call on volunteers to share what they discussed with their partner.
(7 minutes)
  • Read aloud a student-friendly Language Objective, and explain to students that they are going to focus on multiplication today. Share that an important foundation as a mathematician is to know the multiplication facts. Memorizing the facts helps us have a good number sense, and it helps us with higher-level maths concepts. It helps us solve problems faster, too.
  • Explain that, while it is important to have the maths facts memorized, it is most important to understand the relationships between the numbers in the maths facts. Tell them that they'll be using whichever strategy they like best to solve multiplication expressions. Note that even if students have some of the facts memorized, they are still required to show how they got their answer and be able to explain it.
  • Tell the class that you will be showing them how to use different strategies, many of which they saw in the Introduction, and that you'd like them to listen to the way you explain the strategies. Have them take out their maths journals to record any words or phrases they think are important as you talk about the strategies and solving the problem. Share that students will be in charge of choosing the vocabulary words for today's lesson, so they should listen closely to determine which words are important.
  • Model thinking aloud about a multiplication expression (e.g., 3 x 6) to demonstrate what the expression actually means. For instance, say, "This multiplication expression means that I have three groups of six. I could have three packages with six socks in each package. That's something I can visualize and even draw if I wanted to."
  • Show the class how to solve the problem with the different strategies, including skip counting, equal groups, arrays, repeated addition, and a number line. Create an anchor chart to display throughout the lesson with these strategies for student reference.
(12 minutes)
  • Divide the class into small groups and have a representative from each group choose a multiplication expression from the bag or envelope. Tell students that they will each be responsible for solving the problem in whatever way they choose.
  • Instruct students to take out their maths journals, record the expression, and choose a strategy that they'd like to use in order to find the answer to the problem. Remind them to reference the anchor chart of strategies if needed. Encourage individuals to choose a different strategy than the others in their group.
  • Give groups time to discuss the multiplication expression and what type of real-life situation they could create that would help the problem make more sense to them. Remind them about the sock example during the teacher modeling.
  • Have groups discuss how they found the right answer. Challenge them to discuss their strategy and reasoning behind the correct answer. Have each student show their drawings, or create new ones if necessary.
  • Circulate and listen to group talks. Jot notes about common or important words and phrases they use, and create sketches of their visuals to reference later in the lesson. Note which students you'd like to call on in the class discussion to explain certain steps or concepts in the strategies.
  • Facilitate a class discussion about the different strategies that were used among individuals.
  • Have each group share their multiplication expression, the real life visual they discussed, and have each individual share the strategy they used.
  • Call on 1-2 students in each group to share their strategy and reasoning in more depth. Ask the following questions to prompt more explicit explanation and to engage other students in the conversation:
    • Can you tell me more about what you mean when you say ____?
    • Can you restate ____'s explanation?
    • Can you say anything else to share more information about ____'s explanation?
    • Who can restate ____'s answer in a different way?
    • How are these strategies connected?
    • Did anyone solve the problem in the same way, but would explain it differently?
    • Do you agree/disagree? Why?
(12 minutes)
  • Ask students to think about which words and visuals were really helpful in communicating about solving multiplication facts. Tell them that they will come up with a list as a class.
  • Elicit student suggestions and give students the opportunity to explain why they think those words are important. Have the class work together to determine the eight best words. If they struggle with suggestions, offer some of the tiered words listed in this lesson's Key Terms section and why you think they would be good to include.
  • Distribute two copies of the Vocabulary Cards Template worksheet to each individual and give them access to reference materials to find definitions. Allow students to work in partnerships or small groups to create Vocabulary Cards. Prompt them to discuss possible image options for each card.


  • Allow access to reference materials in home language (L1).
  • Have learners repeat instructions and key vocabulary to the teacher.
  • Provide a word bank of key terms and phrases for students to use in group and class discussions.
  • Group students intentionally based on academic and language needs.


  • Choose advanced ELs to share their ideas first in group and class discussions.
  • Have learners repeat instructions and key vocabulary, summarizing important information for the class.
  • Put students in mixed ability groups so they can offer explanations and provide feedback to beginning ELs when appropriate.
(4 minutes)
  • Give students an index card for an Exit Ticket and display a multiplication expression (e.g., 6 x 7). Have them choose one of the following sentence frames to complete.
    • I would solve this expression with the ____Strategy because ____.
    • The ____Strategy would be most helpful to use here because ____.
    • I could solve 6 x 7With the ____Strategy. For example, ____.
(2 minutes)
  • Have students turn and talk to a partner to share their response on the Exit Ticket.
  • Remind learners that using and discussing strategies helps us understand multiplication expressions, and this is an important foundation before simply memorizing the maths facts. Point out that the visuals they used and explained today can help them in the future when they are solving problems that involve maths facts.

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