Teaching the Concept of Multiplication to Students with Moderate/Severe Disabilities and Autism

Do you work with students with intellectual disabilities? Autism? or students with moderate to severe disabilities? I teach elementary students with moderate to severe disabilities including Autism. The state I teach in is also a Common Core state so we follow the CCSS (Common Core State Standards but typically the students I work with use the alternate standards called the CCEE (Common Core Essential Elements). These standards are also aligned to the DLM (Dynamic Learning Map alternate test). CCEE are directly aligned with the CCSS standards for each grade level. One standard that I work on is multiplication and the concept of what it really means to multiply.

Put the breaks on now- because when I saw that I was like "What? How am I going to teach this concept??!!

Well part of what "us"  special education teachers are trained at and good at is breaking down tasks. So what I needed to do first was to think- what is multiplication? Multiplication is repeated addition. So now what I needed to think of was how could I teach them visually (because we all know having visuals really help our students as well as all students) as well as make it a hands on experience? I came up with a simple idea that anyone can use in thier classroom.

1, First we discussed the basics- what is multiplication (repeated addition) while showing them examples on the board, what does the symbol look like (x), what do we call it when we see it in a number sentence (times) and we practiced those simple tasks first.
Math "I Can" poster for multiplication that is used as an anchor chart

Buzzin into Multiplication - Set 1
2. Then I wanted them to try multiplication as repeated addition on their own. So I came up with a problem, for example 4+4+4 or 4x3. We talked about how many groups of 4 we had (3) so we drew 3 circles then we discussed how many are in each group (4) so we put 4 manipulatives in each group (cubes, fun little erasers, beads, pom poms, basically anything that would fit in your circles (groups). I made a few multiplication sets with manipulatives and worksheets that I made after I first introduced this concept. Here are some pictures that I took using them this school year (though you can use what ever you have on hand- draw circles on table with dry eraser marker, use cups/bowls/containers to put manipulatives in- anyway to make it hands-on and visual!

Fishing For Multiplication - set 2 

So there is a few examples of students working on multiplication as repeated addition with the visuals and hands on materials. To help generalize what we were working on we also used worksheets that were very visual. Here is an example:

The worksheet is just another way to help generalize the concept and is less concrete than the manipulatives but still very effective and visual for special education students.

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Do you have any questions, comments or need help teaching a skill? Leave a comment below and I will get right back to you!! 

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