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Topic: creative opening question for a lesson

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Subject:   RE: creative opening question for a lesson
Author: ihor
Date: Jun 29 2006
One of the reasons why you couldnt find much on creative ideas for factoring
polynomials is because very few people try to do it a meaningful creative way.
The two examples shared here are typical. Either its just "plow through" because
you will need it for something we do later or threaten them with with a test (or
worse?). Another approach is to draw the students in by building on something
they already know. For example, ask them why they think anyone would want to
factor polynomials. Most likely as was the case in my classes no one answers.
But what about factoring numbers? Has anyone done that? Chances are some of your
students may be able to answer with something like:  6 can be factored into 2 *
3. Now why would anyone want to do that? There is a good chance a lot of your
kids (even in high school) will not be able to answer that. One direction to go
here would be to share how factoring can help in adding fractions. This only
works if the students have actually added fractions successfully - which I dont
take for granted either.
Assuming they understand and get the usefulness of factoring in adding fractions
with numbers, now ask them how you would add fractions that have variables in
it? Eventually you can discuss the similarities and differences of adding
numerical fractions and algebraic fractions.

The "creative" thing is that you always build on what students know. And I dont
mean what you think they ought to know, but what they actually know.

This is what made teaching very interesting for me but also very challenging
because my "creative" approaches didnt always work.


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