Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Identify Your Opponent

My students have had a really tough time with factoring this year. It's definitely been a different group than in years past, but I haven't been able to put a finger on the problem. If I give them a context (ie. perfect square trinomial, difference of two squares, etc.), then they do fine, but when we got into simplifying polynomial fractions, the wheels fell off.

It became pretty clear that my students were not very good at identifying what they were up against. Are we factoring monomials, binomials or trinomials? Do I use distributive property, diamond problems or "bottom's up?"

You have to know what you're dealing with before you can pick a strategy to defeat it.

So I put on my cool shoes, gave a few hugs and went with the ELA approach:

I'm already noticing that identifying the opponent and choosing the strategy has helped with simplifying poly fractions. Let's hope it sticks.


Sarah said...

I'm familiar with diamond problems but what is bottoms up? I spent 1/2 of my day showing a new teacher how you can use algebra tiles to introduce factoring/multiplying.

josh g. said...

You know, I normally hate mind maps, but for some reason I like this one. Must be the almost-radial-symmetry thing going on. Very nice! Totally saving/stealing this for future reference.

keninwa said...

Do you think you could put up a post with the main points of the diamond problems and the bottoms up problems? I've never seen those phrases when teaching factoring before.

David Cox said...

I'll post something soon on the factoring techniques.

First time I've actually done a kind map and it worked pretty well. Steal away!

Jessica said...

*now* I understand someone's twitter comment from the other day about you "putting on cool shoes *and* giving hugs". lol. Great strategy/organizational tool. Hopefully your students will learn from you not only how this mind map helps them, but how to create one that makes sense for other tricky concepts.

Mr. W said...

i like this. I usually use a list technique and talk about how a QB goes through his receiver reads, like how we are to look at the problem and go through the list until we find the right one.

Vasa said...

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