Thursday, February 7, 2013

Factoring Flow Chart

We've been factoring up a storm in Intermediate Algebra recently.  We started with my most successful use of Algebra tiles to date.  We used the Algebra tiles to learn to multiply binomials and had moderate to good success using them.  This was the first group of kids I've taught in which the group really caught on to what the tiles meant and were proficient in using them to model.  Most groups I've had before couldn't be bothered with "playing" with manipulatives; they just wanted an algorithm!  Due to our success with multiplying binomials, I started giving the kids "puzzles."  "Can you make a rectangle with area x squared plus 3x plus 2?"  They would build it and we'd talk about the side lengths.  After a few successful ventures with all positives, I added in negatives like x^2 - 5x + 6.  Then we moved into challenges that required the use of zero pairs such as x^2 + x - 6 or x^2 - 4.  From that point, we discussed how the students were building their rectangles and what connections they could make between the side lengths of the rectangles and the polynomial they were asked to create.

Then we moved into factoring on paper.  My next post will feature a foldable flip book on which we took notes about all the steps of factoring and the special patterns. Today I'm sharing the flow chart we're using to help guide students through the process of factoring.  We're struggling a bit with the GCF but everything else is pretty smooth sailing.  I introduced this chart yesterday to remind students to start by factoring out the GCF.  Feel free to print these off for your students if you use a similar method.