Saturday, October 8, 2016

Trouble with the Nines!

Years back, I was told a funny and memorable story about a football player. I don't recall where or exactly when I heard the story, but ever since I became a teacher, I have retold the story to my students at the beginning of every school year.  To this day, I still get some of my former students approach me and say, "Miss, remember the story about the football player and the nines?!"  Ahhhh, yes. It's the funny stories they remember the most.

It goes a little something like this....

It was a cool Friday morning and the day of one of the biggest football games of the season.  As the star player, Johnny, was walking down the school hallway wearing his letterman jacket and a huge confident grin, you could hear students yelling out comments like "Good luck at the game Johnny!" and "Score big Johnny!" Johnny just kept smiling as he waved and nodded.

As Johnny entered his math class, his perky teacher, Mrs. Perkins, happily announced that they were having a "Pop Quiz". Well, that announcement sucked the happy out of Johnny right away! He held his head with both hands as he began to freak out! So many thoughts went through Johnny's head!  "Of all days, why today?" "I'm so bad at math!" "If I fail, I won't be able to play during tonight's big game!"

As Mrs. Perkins merrily walk around the classroom distributing the Pop Quiz, Johnny began to slouch down as if to melt into his seat. She placed the quiz on his desk and he jolted right back up. "Oh no!", he yelled. "Not the nines! I still have trouble with my nines!"

Mrs. Perkins announced, "You may begin! Oh, and by the way, this is a timed quiz. You only have 5 minutes!"  Of all the gasps heard in the room, Johnny's was the loudest.

He looked at the quiz and then heard his coach's words echoing in his head, "Always try your best, no matter what! That's what a winner does!" Johnny decided to take the advice his coach gave him and he began to read the quiz carefully.

"Hmm.  This doesn't look so bad. Let me see here.  I know some of these."

"I know 9 x 0 is 0 and 9 x 1 is 9. Wow!  This isn't that bad after all!  Let's see what else I know." As he went through the list of nines, he began to get a little bummed out again, because he didn't know the rest of them. Then all of a sudden, he got to 9 x 10 and yelled "I got another one! Ninety!"
After Mrs. Perkins reminded him that this was a quiz and he was supposed to be quiet, he apologized with a huge smile. He was smiling because he knew at this point, he was NOT going to get a zero on this quiz. There was still a chance that he would pass. So he continued, a little nervous, but still optimistic.

"Coach was right! Always try your best!", he thought to himself.  "Hmmm...I know I have three correct so far. Let's see how many I've missed.", he whispered.  After counting quietly and slowly as he wrote numbers down the list he exclaimed, "What?! No way I'm gonna pass now! I'm gonna miss eight problems!"  
Mrs. Perkins chimed in again and reminded Johnny that he had to take the quiz quietly so that he wouldn't disturb the rest of the class.  "Sorry Mrs. Perkins!", he whispered.  He then proceeded to look at the quiz.  "Wait a minute!", he thought. "I'm not really good at math, so maybe I miscounted the number I've missed!" So back at it he went, but this time starting from the bottom to the top.
"Well, I guess that's that! I'm not gonna play in the big game tonight for sure.", Johnny said as he took the quiz up to Mrs. Perkins. He slowly handed it over to her as he tried to keep his hands steady, but they were shaking so bad that the paper looked like there was a a gust of wind blowing on it. 

His head hanging low and as bummed out as can be, he started to turn to walk back to his desk, when all of a sudden Mrs. Perkins excitedly told him, "Congratulations Johnny! You made a perfect score on your quiz!" Johnny was so shocked that he fainted!

The moral of the story? Johnny's coach said it best! Always try your best, no matter what!

I hope you enjoyed my story. I'm sure there are other versions of it out there somewhere. My students are always amazed and most of the time I here them say, "I never noticed that the answers were like that!"

Another thing I share with them is that when you add up the digits, they equal nine.  For example, 1 + 8 is 9, 2 + 7 is 9, and so on.

I know tricks are not always the best way to teach students math, but if this one makes students feel more comfortable or even more confident with their multiples of nine, I'm going to keep sharing it with them!

If your students need practice on multiplication, here are some activities in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store that make great stations and are quick and easy to prepare.

Thanks so much for reading and have a great day!!!

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