Models are beautiful things and I’m not talking about human models. I’m talking about models for multiplication. What makes them beautiful?

Reason #1: Models make meaning for kids, especially when it comes to multiplication. Without a basis in the meaning of multiplication, the standard algorithm becomes a forgettable process that is easily confused with other meaningless processes.

Reason #2: If students have a foundation in modeling multiplication, WHEN they get stuck using the standard algorithm [and they will get stuck no matter how much it’s drilled in], they can move backwards to partial products or the area model.

Reason #3: Models for multiplication can be used from 2nd grade to 8th grade.

Reason #4: Modeling multiplication does not take the emphasis off learning the standard algorithm. In fact, modeling makes the standard algorithm make sense.