Engaging students: Multiplying binomials

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission again comes from my former student Sarah McCall. Her topic, from Algebra: multiplying binomials.

green line

B2. How does this topic extend what your students should have learned in previous courses?

My hope is that this topic may be easier to understand if student’s can first recall an easier concept that they have already mastered, and then build upon that foundation to learn new skills. For example, at this point students should have already learned the distributive property. To introduce this new concept, I would begin by writing 4(x-5)=4 on the board and asking students what the very first step would be to solve for x. They should know to start by distributing the four to both x and -5, to get 4x-20=4. After completing a few similar examples as a class and/or in groups, then the idea of multiplying binomials would be introduced. This way, students are less intimidated when presented with new material, and they will have a good understanding of how to distribute to each term.

 

green line

D1. What interesting things can you say about the people who contributed to the discovery and/or the development of this topic?

Teaching students some of the history behind what they are learning can be a great engaging tool. In this case it is helpful to know where the foil method first originated. I would incorporate this by discussing how it first was used in 1929; in William Bentz’ Algebra for Today. In Algebra for Today, Bentz was the first person to mention the “first terms, outer terms, inner terms, last terms” rule. Students should be knowledgeable about the history behind the math they are using, so that they realize the importance of this method. I also believe that it will be cool for students to see how a method developed is still relevant 88 years later. This technique was created in order to provide a memory aid, or “mnemonic device” to help students learn how to multiply binomials. The fact that it is still being used even today proves what an influential concept it was at its time, and throughout the years.

 

green lineE1. How can technology (YouTube, Khan Academy [khanacademy.org], Vi Hart, Geometers Sketchpad, graphing calculators, etc.) be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

I am a huge fan of incorporating technology in the classroom, and YouTube is especially great because most students already use YouTube outside of school. The following clip (stopped at 1:48) provides a clear, concise explanation and demonstration of the FOIL method for multiplying binomials. It explains how factoring and foiling are related, and shows students which order to distribute in (first, outer, inner, last). The acronym FOIL is easy for students to remember, and gives them something that they can write down each time they complete a problem to help them distribute properly. Additionally, the clip is just under two minutes, which is the perfect time to ensure that students don’t zone out or lose interest before the end of the video. I would choose to follow up this video by completing a few examples as a class, emphasizing the four steps of foiling as mentioned in the video and how to use them.

References

http://pballew.blogspot.com/2011/02/origin-of-foil-for-binomial.html

Engaging students: Adding and subtracting polynomials

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission again comes from my former student Kelly Bui. Her topic, from Algebra: multiplying polynomials.

green line

A2. How could you as a teacher create an activity or project that involves your topic?
The main idea of the activity will be finding an expression to represent the area of the border given the dimensions of the outer rectangle and the inner rectangle. The students will need to know how to multiply binomials and add or subtract polynomials. Therefore, this activity would be towards the end of the unit. Students will be asked to roam around the classroom or the hallway in search of items that already have dimensions labeled. For example, in the hallway there may be a bulletin board with the dimensions (2x² – 7) for the length and (3x – 4) for the width. Inside of the bulletin board, there will be the dimensions of a smaller rectangle. The question will be asked: What expression will represent the area I want to cover if I want to cover the only the border with paper?
Students may work in partners or groups to put minds together to solve this problem. Every object labeled with dimensions will be in the shape of a rectangle and the math involved will require students to multiply binomials and subtract polynomials.

 

green lineB2. How does this topic extend what your students should have learned in previous courses?
Before students learn to add and subtract polynomials, they learn how to combine like terms such as 3x and 5x. When we add and subtract polynomials, it is very similar to combining like terms in algebraic expressions. Students will need be familiar with the concept of combing like terms before they add or subtract polynomials. To introduce the topic of combining polynomials, it can be set up horizontally.

Such as: (3x² – 5x + 6) – (6x² – 4x + 9)

By setting it up this way, students can determine which terms can be combined and which terms need to be left alone. Additionally, students will build on the concept of combining like terms as it applies to this process as well. Setting it up horizontally will also increase the chance of preventing the mistake of forgetting to distribute the negative sign throughout the second polynomial. Once students are comfortable doing it this way, the addition and subtraction can be set up as a vertical problem where students must now take the step to align the like terms together in order to add or subtract. By taking the step to set up the polynomials horizontally before vertically, it will give the students a deeper understanding of what concept is actually behind adding and subtracting polynomials.

 

green line

E1. How can technology be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

The website http://www.quia.com provides a multitude of activities relating to different subjects. The game I chose to correlate adding and subtracting polynomials is identical to the actual game Battleship. The game can be played by anyone with access to the internet and Adobe. This game is interactive because you won’t have to perform math on every single shot fired at the enemy. If the student does hit one of the vessels, in order to actually “hit” the enemy’s ship, the student must successfully add or subtract two polynomials. If a student hits a vessel but is unable to solve the polynomial correctly, the game will highlight the hit area so that the student can try again. This game can either engage the students to see who can sink all of the enemy’s ships first, or it can be assigned as a homework assignment that requires showing work and screenshotting the end result of the game. Lastly, you can choose the level of difficulty of the game. For example, on the hard level, you must determine the missing addend or minuend to the expression, or add or subtract polynomials of different degrees.
The website also offers an option to create your own activities, so if Battleship isn’t panning out as desired, it is possible to create your own game for your students.
Game: https://www.quia.com/ba/28820.html

References:

Area of the Border: https://www.sophia.org/concepts/adding-and-subtracting-polynomials-in-the-real-world

Combining Like Terms: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-algebra/chapter/introduction-to-polynomials/

Battleship: https://www.quia.com/ba/28820.html

Engaging students: Multiplying binomials

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission comes from my former student Lucy Grimmett. Her topic, from Algebra I: multiplying binomials like (a+b)(c+d).

green line

How could you as a teacher create an activity of project that involves your topic?

There are tons of activities that could be created with this topic. The first thing that came to mind was giving each student a notecard when they walked in the room. Each notecard would have a binomial on it. Students would be asked to find a partner in the classroom and multiply their binomials together. They would be able to assist one another, discuss possible misconceptions, and ask questions that they might not want to ask in front of an entire class. This could be a quick 5-minute warm up at the beginning of class, or could turn into a longer activity depending on how many partners you want each student to have. This wouldn’t involve much work on the teacher’s part; all you would have to do is create 30 differing binomials. If you feel the need to create a cheat sheet with answers to every possible pair you can, but that would involve more work then necessary.

green line

How does this topic extend from what your students should already have learned in previous courses?

In previous courses and chapters in algebra, students are set up with knowledge of combining like terms. The most common idea of combining like terms is adding or subtracting, for example 2-1=1 or 2+1=3. Students don’t realize that in the elementary school they are combining like terms. This is a key tool used when multiplying binomials. As future math teachers, we know that when we see 2x + 3x we can quickly combine these numbers to get 5x. This simplifies an equation. Students will struggle with this at first because they will not be used to having a variable, such as x, mixed into the equation, literally. This will be a similar issue when discussing multiplying binomials. Students will have to get used to seeing  (4x+1)(3x-8) and turning it into the longer version 12x^2+3x-32x-8 and then finding the like terms to simplify again, creating the shorter version 12x^2-29x-8. This is an extension of like-terms.

green line

How can technology be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

Algebra tiles are a great tool for students and teachers to use. Even better is an online algebra tile map. This allows a teacher to show students how to use algebra times from a main point, such as a projector, rather then walking around the room and individually showing them. Teachers can have students work individually with their iPad’s (if they have them) or use actual algebra tiles. This would be a great engagement piece for a day when students are recapping distributing or “FOIL” as many teachers like to call it. This can also be a great discovery lesson when students are learning how to multiply binomials. This all depends on if students have used algebra tiles before, and how comfortable the teacher is with implementing a lesson like this in the classroom. Another idea is pairing students and giving them binomials to multiply, which they will present to the class in a short presentation using their online algebra tile tool.

Here’s the link for the online algebra tiles:

http://technology.cpm.org/general/tiles/

 

Engaging students: Multiplying polynomials

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission again comes from my former student Daniel Herfeldt. His topic, from Algebra: multiplying polynomials.

green line

How could you as a teacher create an activity or project that involves your topic?

Activities for multiplying polynomials are endless. An activity that I would do with my students is a game called polynomial dice. To do this, you would first is to get several blank dice and write random polynomials on each side of the dice. Then in class, divide the students into groups of no more than three. Each group will get a pair of dice. Have the students roll the dice and they should have two different polynomials. Once they have rolled, have them multiply the polynomials together. This is best done with groups so that the students can share their work with their partners to see if they both got the same answer. If they did not get the same answer, they can go back through each other’s steps to see where they went wrong. If you want to make the game a bit harder, you can add more dice to make them multiply three polynomials, or maybe even more. This is a great game because it can be used for multiplying polynomials, as well as dividing, adding and subtracting. It could be a great review game before a major test to have students remember how to do each individual property. For example, have the students roll the dice, then with the two polynomials they get, they first add the polynomials, followed by the difference, then the product, and finally the quotient.

 

green line

How can this topic be used in your students’ future courses in mathematics or science?

Multiplying polynomials is used all over mathematics. It is first introduced in Algebra I and Algebra II. Multiplying polynomials can be very difficult for students and make them not want to do the work. This is due to there being so much work for one problem. Since there is so much work, there is a lot of room for mistakes. This topic is used is Algebra I, Algebra II, Algebra III, Pre-Calculus, Calculus and just about every higher math course. If a student is looking to go into an architecture or engineering field, they will have to apply their knowledge of polynomials. Due to this, the topic is one of the most important topics that students need to understand. Knowing how to multiply polynomials also makes it easier to divide polynomials. If a student is struggling with dividing polynomials, you can go back to showing them how to multiply them. Once a student sees the pattern of multiplying polynomials, they are more likely to get the hang of dividing them.

 

green line

How can technology (YouTube, Khan Academy [khanacademy.org], Vi Hart, Geometers Sketchpad, graphing calculators, etc.) be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

I believe this video would be a great engage for the students when you, as a teacher, are teaching the students how to multiply polynomials for the first time. This video helps students remember what exactly is a polynomial. Although there is only three types of polynomials in the video (monomial, binomial, and trinomial), it uses the three main types that students will be using in a high school level. Another great thing in the video is that it shows how to tell the degree of the polynomial. Although it seems easy to just say the power of x is the same as the degree, students still might forget how to do it. For example, a student might think that a digit by itself and with no variable has a degree of one, but is really a degree of zero. The final point that is key to this video is that it shows students how to line up the terms. Some students might put 6+x^2+3x, and although that is still correct, it will be better written as x^2+3x+6.

Thoughts on the Accidental Fraction Brainbuster

I really enjoyed reading a recent article on Math With Bad Drawings centered on solving the following problem without a calculator:

I won’t repeat the whole post here, but it’s an excellent exercise in numeracy, or developing intuitive understanding of numbers without necessarily doing a ton of computations. It’s also a fun exercise to see how much we can figure out without resorting to plugging into a calculator. I highly recommend reading it.

When I saw this problem, my first reflex wasn’t the technique used in the post. Instead, I thought to try the logic that follows. I don’t claim that this is a better way of solving the problem than the original solution linked above. But I do think that this alternative solution, in its own way, also encourages numeracy as well as what we can quickly determine without using a calculator.

Let’s get a common denominator for the two fractions:

\displaystyle \frac{3997 \times 5001}{4001 \times 5001} \qquad and \displaystyle \qquad \frac{4001 \times 4996}{4001 \times 5001}.

Since the denominators are the same, there is no need to actually compute 4001 \times 5001. Instead, the larger fraction can be determined by figuring out which numerator is largest. At first glance, that looks like a lot of work without a calculator! However, the numerators can both be expanded by cleverly using the distributive law:

3997 \times 5001 = (4000-3)(5000+1) = 4000\times 5000 + 4000 - 3 \times 5000 - 3,

4001 \times 4996 = (4000+1)(5000-4) = 4000\times 5000 - 4 \times 4000 + 5000 - 4.

We can figure out which one is bigger without a calculator — or even directly figuring out each product.

  • Each contains 4000 \times 5000, so we can ignore this common term in both expressions.
  • Also, 4000 - 3\times 5000 and 5000 - 4 \times 4000 are both equal to -11,000, and so we can ignore the middle two terms of both expressions.
  • The only difference is that there’s a -3 on the top line and a -4 on the bottom line.

Therefore, the first numerator is the larger one, and so \displaystyle \frac{3997}{4001} is the larger fraction.

Once again, I really like the original question as a creative question that initially looks intractable that is nevertheless within the grasp of middle-school students. Also, I reiterate that I don’t claim that the above is a superior method, as I really like the method suggested in the original post. Instead, I humbly offer this alternate solution that encourages the development of numeracy.

Your Plan is Foiled

foiledplan

I normally prefer the phrase “by using the distributive law” instead of the more colloquial “by FOIL,” but I’ll make an exception in this case.

Engaging students: Multiplying binomials

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission again comes from my former student Andy Nabors. His topic, from Algebra: multiplying binomials.

green line

A2. How could you as a teacher create an activity or project that involves your topic?

Multiplying binomials is an interesting concept because there are so many ways in which this can be done. I can think of five ways that binomials can be multiplied: FOIL, the box method, distribution, vertical multiplication, and with algebra tiles. I would incorporate these methods into one of two different ways. In either case, I would split the class into five groups.

  1. In the first way, I would assign each group a different method of multiplication. The groups would each be responsible for exploring their method, working together to master it. Then each group would be responsible for making a poster describing their method in detail. Then would then present their poster to the class, and the students not presenting would be taking notes. Already having one concept of binomial multiplication, the students would be seeing other methods and deciding which makes most sense to them.
  2. In my second idea, I would have five stations in the classroom each with their own method. The groups would rotate station to station figuring out the different methods collaboratively. The groups would rotate every 7-10 minutes until they had been to every station. Then the class would discuss the strengths/weaknesses of each method compared to the others in a class discussion moderated by the teacher.

These activities rely on the students being able to work and learn in groups effectively, which would present difficulty if the class was not used to group work.

green line

B1. How can this topic be used in your students’ future courses in mathematics or science?

I had the privilege of teaching a multiplying binomial lesson to a freshmen algebra one class in CI last spring. My partner and I focused on the box method first, and then used that to introduce FOIL. The box method was easier to grasp because of the visual nature of it. In fact, it looks a lot like something that the students will definitely see in their biology classes. The box method looks almost identical to gene Punnet Squares in biology. In fact, my partner and I used Punnet Squares in our Engage of that lesson. We reminded the students of what a Punnet Square was, and then showed them a filled out square. We went over how the boxes were filled: the letter on top of each column goes into the boxes below and the letters to the left of the box go in each box to the right. Then we showed them an empty Punnet Square with the same letters before. We inquired about what happens when two variables are multiplied together, then filled out the boxes with multiplication signs in between the letters. The students responded well and were able to grasp the concept fairly well from the onset.

green line

E1. How can technology be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

The internet is fast becoming the only place students will go for helpful solutions to school problems. This activity is designed to be a review of multiplying binomials that would allow students to use some internet resources, but make them report as to why the resource is helpful. The class will go to the computer lab or have laptops wheeled in and they will be given a list of sites that cover binomial multiplication. They will pick a site and write about the following qualities of their chosen site: what kind of site? (calculator, tutorial, manipulative, etc.), how is it presented? (organized/easy to use), was it helpful? (just give an answer opposed to listing the steps), did it describe the method it used?, can you use it to do classwork?, etc.

This is a sample list, I would want more sites, but it gives the general idea I’m going for. (general descriptions in parentheses for this project’s sake)

http://www.mathcelebrity.com/binomult.php (calculator, shows basic steps of FOIL of inputted problem)

http://www.webmath.com/polymult.html (calculator, shows very detailed and specific steps of FOIL of inputted problem)

http://calculator.tutorvista.com/foil-calculator.html (calculator, shows general steps of FOIL, not the inputted problem)

http://www.coolmath.com/crunchers/algebra-problems-multiplying-polynomials-FOIL-1.html (calculator but only problems it gives itself, more of a practice site)

http://www.mathwarehouse.com/algebra/polynomial/foil-method-binomials.php (FOIL tutorial site with practice problems with hidden steps)

http://www.themathpage.com/alg/quadratic-trinomial.htm (wordy explanation, lots of practice problems with hidden answers)

https://www.khanacademy.org/math/algebra/multiplying-factoring-expression/multiplying-binomials/v/multiplying-polynomials-2 (many tutoring videos, just the writing no person)

http://www.zooktutoring.com/now-available-my-very-first-instructional-math-video/ (many tutoring videos, tutor is seen with the work)

http://illuminations.nctm.org/Activity.aspx?id=3482 (algebra tile manipulator)

I will assume as a teacher that my students already look for easy solutions online, so I want to make sure they look in places that will help them gain understanding. I would stress that calculator sites are dangerous because if you just use them then you will not be able to perform on your own, but could be helpful to check your answer if you were worried. At the end of the lesson they would have a greater understanding of how to use internet sources effectively and have reviewed multiplying binomials.

 

Resources:

http://www.mathcelebrity.com/binomult.php

http://www.webmath.com/polymult.html

http://calculator.tutorvista.com/foil-calculator.html

http://www.coolmath.com/crunchers/algebra-problems-multiplying-polynomials-FOIL-1.html

http://www.mathwarehouse.com/algebra/polynomial/foil-method-binomials.php

http://www.themathpage.com/alg/quadratic-trinomial.htm

https://www.khanacademy.org/math/algebra/multiplying-factoring-expression/multiplying-binomials/v/multiplying-polynomials-2

http://www.zooktutoring.com/now-available-my-very-first-instructional-math-video/

http://illuminations.nctm.org/Activity.aspx?id=3482

Lessons from teaching gifted elementary school students (Part 1)

Every so often, I’ll informally teach a class of gifted elementary-school students. I greatly enjoy interacting with them, and I especially enjoy the questions they pose. Often these children pose questions that no one else will think about, and answering these questions requires a surprisingly depth of mathematical knowledge.

Here’s a question I once received:

When playing with my calculator, I noticed the following pattern:

256 \times 256 = 65,5\underline{36}

257 \times 257 = 66,0\underline{49}

258 \times 258 = 66,5\underline{64}

Is there a reason why the last two digits are perfect squares? I know it usually doesn’t work out this way.

I leave a thought bubble in case you’d like to think this. One way of answering this question appears after the bubble.

green_speech_bubbleThe answer is: This always happens as long as the tens digits is either 0 or 5.

To see why, let’s expand (50n + k)^2, where n and k are nonnegative integers and 0 \le k \le 9. If n is odd, then the tens digit of 50n+k will be a 5. But if n is even, then the tens digit of 50n+k will be 0.

Whether n is even or odd, we get

(50n+k)^2 = 2500n^2 + 100nk + k^2 = 100(25n^2 + nk) + k^2

The expression inside the parentheses is not important; what is important is that 100(25n^2 + nk) is a multiple of 100. Therefore, the contribution of this term to the last two digits of (50n+k)^2 is zero. We conclude that the last two digits of (50n+k)^2 is just k^2.

Naturally, elementary-school students are typically not ready for this level of abstraction. That’s what I love about this question: this is a completely natural question for a curious grade-school child to ask, but the teacher has to have a significantly deeper understanding of mathematics to understand the answer.

Engaging students: Inverse Functions

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission again comes from my former student Brittney McCash. Her topic, from Algebra II: multiplying binomials.

green line

C3. How has this topic appeared in the news.

For the engagement on this aspect of my topic, I would bring a binomial cube with me. I would pose the question, “What do we do when we multiply two binomials together?” The students, of course would not know the answer. I would then say, “Well let’s what one man did that they even did a news article about him!” This in itself catches the students attention because they are piqued about what exactly I am talking about. I would then pass out a copy of this news article so that the students could read. After popcorn reading out loud, we would discuss the article and about how we could use the binomial cube. I would then take out my cube (If possible, put students in groups and give each group a binomial cube to work with) and ask the students, “How in the world did he use this cube to multiply those binomials (points to equation on board)?” I would give them the hint that they have to add up the sides of the square and solve for the perimeter, and see what they can come up with. This is a great engagement for the kids because not only is it hands on, but the article brings in outside aspects of what they’re learning so that they realize they are not the only ones having to learn the material. It’s also a great way to introduce multiplying binomials because it starts at the beginning of adding variables (which they already know how to do), and it’s a visual representation of concept that is sometimes hard to grasp. It’s also a great way to lead into the FOIL, Box, etc…methods to take it into a deeper explanation. For those that have not heard of the binomial cube, here are some pictures of what the students will be working out.

ARTICLE: News Article about Binomial Cube

multiplybinomial

green line<!–[if gte mso 9]>

B2. How does this topic extend what your students should have learned in previous courses?

            A great way to start off with this engagement would be to take the students back to sixth grade. Start off with asking students, “Who remembers when we had to learn how to add and subtract fractions?” Most, if not all, of the students should raise their hands. You can then ask, “Okay, good. So does anyone remember what the next step was after we learned how to add and subtract fractions? What did we learn how to do next?” The answer I am looking for here is multiplying and dividing. After that is established, you can lead in with, “Okay, so who can tell me what the next step would be with what we have previously been learning (adding and subtracting binomials)?” The answer is multiplication and division. Make sure to let them know that you will only be focusing on the multiplication aspect for now. Then you can pose some questions like, “What does multiplying binomials look like? How do we do it? Is there more than one way?” You can then go into a deeper exploration of multiplying binomials and the different ways you can do so. This is a good way to introduce multiplying binomials because not only did I bring in one concept students were already familiar with, I brought in two. I utilized something they already knew (even if subconsciously) back in middle school, and applied that same order to something more complex. It showed them that there was a purpose for learning what they did, and why there is a reason we go in the order that we do. Then you have the aspect of taking something they had been previously working on this semester and extending it further. This helps the students connect with what they are learning and realizing there is a purpose. Because multiplication is repeated addition, we are taking something they have previously learned, and extending it further. Another reason this is a good plan is because you start off with such a basic question, that every student knows the answer. This allows for immediate attention because all the students know what you are talking about, the more they understand, the more likely they are to participate in classroom discussion.

green line<!–[if gte mso 9]>

E1. How can technology be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

In multiplying binomials, technology is a wonderful thing. It can allow students the opportunity to learn in new and interesting ways. When thinking of an engage for this topic, I thought of the 9th grade Algebra 1 class I am currently teaching. High School students are sometimes the hardest to keep entertained, and I think I found the perfect video to help keep there attention. This video is a group of students who did a rap about the FOIL method. What better way to relate to students then students themselves! I would start class off by telling the class, “Today we are going to start of by watching a fun video over something we will be learning today.” Proceed to play the video, and observe how every student is watching. The video is fun while also informing. It describes the method, though not thoroughly, but it gives the students an idea of what will be coming. This video helps show that other students all over the state/world are learning the same thing, and are bringing a fun new aspect to the learning of the material. After the video is played, you might ask the class to try and guess at what exactly you will be covering today. It’s always good to see their minds work and try to figure it out. This question also allows them to connect the video back to the classroom environment and settle down. You can then begin your lesson on multiplying binomials. At the end of the lesson, I would bring up the video again, and ask the class if they can recall what FOIL stands for and to give me an example. I would probably make this their exit ticket for the day and have them write it down on a piece of paper. (This video runs a little long, and I would recommend editing some parts out for time sake. )

Resources:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG-c7NWFS8U

http://www.noozhawk.com/article/santa_barbara_montessori_school_open_house_binomial_cube_20140118

http://montessorimuddle.org/2012/02/02/using-the-binomial-cube-in-algebra/

Engaging students: Multiplying binomials

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission comes from my former student Claire McMahon. Her topic, from Algebra I: multiplying binomials like (a+b)(c+d).

green line

I personally have had the pleasure of teaching this part of Algebra 1 to a freshman high school class.  The greatest part about the lesson was how the students were able to work together to really figure all of them out and better yet, they knew why!  You can use several different versions of BINGO for practically anything in math.  And who doesn’t love to win prizes.  This website in particular has led me to some really great lesson plans and I credit a lot of this blog to a lot of the lesson plans I have personally implemented.  Almost every one of them worked with almost little to no tweaking.  I’m not exactly a huge fan of the FOIL concept so I used BINO instead of Bingo!!  Just like singing the song and insert joke here.  So here is the lesson on Distributive Bingo and how it works.  The basic rundown is you give the students either the polynomial or the already factored binomials and have them solve it one way or the other.  For example, if you are trying to focus more on the factoring and zeros making them go from a polynomial to factoring is good practice.  The other really great thing is you can build scaffolds into the game itself by passing out hint cards or key concepts to help them figure out what they are looking for, similar to a formula sheet.

green line

One of the great things about the Internet is there is so much information constantly flowing in and out at all times.  YouTube is a great asset when trying to reinforce good study habits and good metacognition.  Most students are very visual and it gives step-by-step instructions on how to do almost anything.  The other key thing is they can pause rewind and replay if necessary.  If you prefer to have a safer environment for your students to browse then you can lean them toward teacher tube, which has all the same resources without the junk videos.  Here is one of the many multiplying videos that show a method similar to a Punnet Square, which is in line with learning genetics and heredity.  They might have already learned this in biology but if not then it’s a great visual representation of a multiplication table and they will learn it again in science.  It’s easy for the students to check their work and for you to see where any misconceptions can arise.

green line

Algebra tiles are an amazing tool for teaching area models and multiplying binomials.  There are virtual algebra tiles found on the Internet and also many different websites that you can buy a classroom set.   I recommend your students to get used to because they show the value of negative and positive and how multiplying, adding, subtracting or dividing positive and negative integers affects the outcome.  This concept is very important when you are learning to multiply binomials and is often lost or was never present in many student’s previous studies.  You need to make sure that these basic skill benchmarks are met before embarking on an algebra tiles journey.  If you teach the basic rules to play with algebra tiles then you will be set in teaching them multiplication and factoring of binomials and polynomials.  We all love a journey of understanding and this is one of the most awesome tools that students can use to “do math.”