Factoring schmactoring.

I swear I titled a blog post this exact same way a few months ago because I was complaining that my precalc kids can't factor.

Right now we're factoring in Algebra 1.  It wasn't something that I was looking forward to; we've been struggling a lot lately with both behavior and material.  (I'm still trying to forget about the weeks we spent solving systems.  Sheer torture.)  Last week we talked only about GCFs, which I thought were going well until I graded half of the quizzes.  There were 4 - 5 kids with 100%+ (I had a couple of bonus problems) and everyone else was below a 50%.  A little disparity, anyone?

This week we've been factoring quadratics (just  ) using the X-box method.  We make an X to find the two values whose sum is b and product is c (have you seen the product-sum puzzles on ilovemath.org?) and then make a box to finish up the factoring.  I was worried that it was going to be too much writing for the kids but things seem to be going well.  Today's plan was to practice some more.

I wanted four of those five kids to do a little more today, knowing that they would get bored quickly with doing the X-boxes... and that's when they go crazy and drive me crazy.  (The fifth boy is super smart but is autistic and OCD.  I didn't want to push.)  so I wrote up a sheet with a combination of GCF and trinomials mixed up... and problems with both a GCF and then a factorable trinomial.  I had the chosen few work on the first couple of x-box problems with the rest of the class so I could make sure they were comfortable, then gave them the second sheet.  The amount of work and concentration that they showed that assignment was amazing!  The one boy who is constantly up and around and bugging everyone else got every problem done... with help.  I didn't have to tell him one time to sit and work and stop talking.

Him on the way out the door:  You know, I just get everything down and then you make it harder.
 Me:  Yep.  Think about how much smarter you’re getting!
Him:  Think about how much harder I’m working.
Me:  Yes!

I promised him tomorrow would be more of the same... and then I'm going to move them on to solving the equations that they're factoring!  Hopefully this will be the end of the behavior issues....

I can't believe that I almost forgot!  Got my new ipad today at school!  Woo hoo!  Now if any of you can tell me how to use it in class I'll be forever grateful :)  (Someone on twitter mentioned that I might be able to use it with geogebra... definitely need to figure that one out!)