What is 6x7?

Posted by Rachel Herron on 8/21/2020 7:00:00 AM

Multiplication tables have been the root of deep seeded angst for most of my life. How is it that I am in my 40s and still cannot tell you what 6x7 is off of the top of my head? I consider myself an intelligent person and have several degrees under my belt, but 6x7? That question brings out my fingers to count.  

The truth is, I have known for a long time that I transpose numbers and have a really hard time retelling number sequences. I have considered for a long time how I could be the lead in a play, memorizing page after page of text, but could not remember my social security number without  a mnemonic. Word to the wise...never dictate your phone number to me if you actually want me to call you. However, if you show me your keyboard, I can remember the visual pattern of your number as well as my phone number when I lived in Texas when I was 8 years old (235-4948).

As an adult, I have a lot of thoughts about this and the education I received by well-meaning, traditional teachers. I was not identified as having a learning disability, yet I struggled. I realized that my inability to do math the way I was taught shaped me. 

Educationally it shaped my ability to continue successfully in math because many of the gaps I had were part of the foundation I needed to move forward. 

Emotionally it also shaped me. I was defeated before ever entering a class. I said things like, “I am not good in math,” and “Why should I even try?” I felt a large amount of shame in this area, and even now if you know me - you will hear me say, “I was told there would be no math” when someone talks about the budget, or insurance premiums.

I have realized some things over the years. I can quadruple recipes in my mind and have the amounts turn out correctly. I can tip 20% to the penny without a calculator. 

I just learn differently.

THIS is why I am such an advocate for Universal Design For Learning (UDL) being a guiding force in every classroom. According to the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), Universal design for learning (UDL) is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn.” 

To me, UDL levels the playing field for students by making sure educators are thinking about the tools, strategies and ways a large variety of students are engaged before they even arrive at school. Asking questions about how a student needs to move, sit or receive information prior to teaching is an important part of packing for the road trip. Considering whether a different mode of learning or choice of activity might impact how a student is able to accept and/or express that information is just filling up the gas tank.

This year my goal is to have conversations that get to the crux of what makes student learning even better with educators across our member districts. Goalbook Toolkit, a resource available to all of our special educators, has an endless list of evidence-based and fully vetted UDL resources. We have this incredible resource to take with us on our journey. Finding strategies that speak to individual students, enhancing the natural gifts that allow them maximum achievement, is the vehicle. When we reach our destination, we will find answers...beyond computing 6x7.

  Rachel Herron

Rachel Herron, SDI Facilitator