Saturday, October 6, 2012

Factoring Before You Know How

Factoring has been my nemesis for years. I don't think I have taught it entirely the same way twice. My students arrive in Algebra 2 with some experience in factoring, but I always feel like many of them are learning it from scratch.

This year's changes to the factoring extravaganza include adding in this activity, where students try to match two binomials to each quadratic:

I had students do this matching activity before I gave them any specific factoring strategies or rules (we had previously reviewed multiplying binomials). I wanted them thinking about the question "What two binomials multiply to get this polynomial?"  I wanted them to develop some intuition about factoring before I hit 'em with a specific method.

After ten minutes of this, a few groups were finished. The rest were making progress but it was a struggle. "Isn't there another way to do this, Mrs. Gruen?" Well, yes there is, I am so glad you asked! And then I showed them the airplane method, which I tweaked a tiny bit this year (I will write about that soon). And they just ate it up.

Here are the files:
Binomial Tiles Factoring Work Mat #1 Factoring Work Mat #2


  1. I forgot to mention, Kudos to the Hubs for helping me make these files in pages. If you would like the original file so that you can edit, I would be happy to email it.

    1. Can you email it to me :) THANK YOU!!!

    2. Can you email it to me :) THANK YOU!!!

    3. Can you email to Thanks!

    4. I'd love to have a copy!

      Thanks sooo much!!

    5. I would love to have a copy!.

    6. Hello! I really love this activity and would love to have a copy. Could you please email it to me at I would really appreciate it.

  2. Thanks. Posted a link to your blog post here

  3. Hi!

    I just stumbled upon this and would like the Pages file.

    Thanks and happy holidays.

    John J. Kalicki

  4. Did you give each group both mats?

  5. Just the other night I was trying to help my brother with his homework. This would have really come in handy. We were trying to figure out factoring but with little luck. I wish I would have known about this then.

  6. Can you email me these files so I can edit and use them in my class?



  7. Could you please email me your files too!

    I found a great way to teach the students how to factor when a does not equal 1. It is called the "Slide and Divide" Method.

    It's Amazing and so much easier then the guess and check!!!!

    Hope this helps for next year!

  8. Can you please email the files to We are working on factoring now in my Algebra 2 classes and this would be great for my students. Thank you!

  9. I dont have a scribd account, can you email me the files. I would love to use them this week at school.