Saturday, February 4, 2017

Free Factoring Fun




I remember the first time someone showed me a Diamond Problem - a cool math puzzle that transformed factoring from something scary into something fun. I showed my students an example and had them create the algorithm. Before they knew it, they were slaying factoring problems.

Then we would review for the EOC, the students would see a factoring problem and get excited because they could answer it with a diamond problem. But I would hear the same question over and over, "Where do the numbers go in the diamond?" It was interesting because they knew they wanted factors that multiply to the constant and add to the middle term, but they were so hung up properly arranging them in the diamond that they got stuck.

As the factoring unit approaches this year, I thought back to my beloved diamond problem and how my students were confused about something that didn't matter, and I made the difficult decision to nix the diamond.

I found this great {free} PowerPoint game from Scaffolded Math and Science. It got the students thinking about numbers just like the diamond problems did. They loved the game format, and I even offered some candy to the first correct answer just to up the engagement even more.

Then I showed them a problem with two binomials in factored and simplified form and asked them to think about how the numbers were connected. I had them put their thumb up when they saw the connection and it was amazing how fast the wheels started turning.
Here is how I had them organize the information and it worked out just as easily as a diamond problem. They knew what the product and sum of the numbers needed to be without any confusion.

We filled out this table, and I love helped them to see the connection between factoring and distributing.

I love this {free} Search and Shade activity to practice. The heart is super timely if you are Factoring right now, but they can celebrate their love for factoring anytime ;)

Now we know the real fun comes when you change the leading coefficient. Stay tuned to see how it goes ...

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