Q&A #426


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From: Claudia (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Jul 23, 1998 at 19:53:12
Subject: Re: Factoring

It is tough to say "best" because students learn differently. I think it is important that students understand what the multiplication part (pre-factoring) means. AND I find area models (algebra tiles) the best way to explain that concept. If done in the multiplication phase, then factoring is just the "undoing" process. If you are forced to teach factoring more abstractly, then it is important to give many examples and write the rules out in "plain English" rather than the way most books specify the rules. For example: a^2 - b^2 = (a+b)(a-b) That is the usual rule. The students who cannot abstract have no clue as to what you wrote. Difference of two squares means "Do I have a perfect square number minus a perfect square number?" If so, write down two parentheses, put a + in one and a - in the other. Now take the square root of the each of the two squares. (Of course, students confuse square and square root!) You should try to see the TIC TAC TOE method of factoring that is used in the South Western Publishing Algebra Series. My students like it best of all. -Claudia, for the Teacher2Teacher

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