Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Algebra 1 Inquiry Activity - Factoring Trinomials

This is my first attempt at an inquiry lesson in Algebra 1 for the concept of factoring trinomials using the method of grouping.  Instead of just giving the students the rules, I want them to have to think about what will work, why it works, and how you know it works.  
[Click here for resources]

I got this idea for the inquiry factoring "lesson" from someone...either on twitter or a blog.  And I can’t for the life of me remember WHO!  So, please, if it was you, let me know so I can give you credit :)

I am always looking for ways to involve inquiry in my math class - that has been a big area of focus in my second year of flipping my classroom.  So, here is the first one I’ve created for Algebra 1!

Usually we just teach factoring as a protocol, a method, something to memorize.   Why not have our students figure it out themselves? (With some guidance, of course...)

I use the grouping method to teach factoring, so here is an activity that sets up the idea of grouping (trinomial → polynomial) but has the students figure out which numbers work and then why.

Please let me know what you think. (This is my first draft and I just started working on it today, so there is room for improvement!)
  •  Is there anything that is unclear? (Especially the questions...)
  •  Is there something that you suggest be tweaked? 
  •  Do you have any activities like this for your classes?  (I teach Algebra 1 and Pre-Cal)

(For better viewing, click here for Google Drive Folder or download for FREE from my TeachersPayTeachers store!)


  1. Kim Stichnote - Missouri

    We taught factoring in Algebra 1 by talking about what the roots are. Translating that into factors. Our science department teaches a Punnet Square for genetic traits and I hooked up with that to teach them to multiply their two factors. I had students pick two integer roots, make those into factors and a quadratic and put them on a Google Spread Sheet. They listed their roots, factors, quadratic and a relationship between the roots and the quadratic. Because it was on a Google Doc, they could view each other's work and begin to make group comparisons on the relationships. It has been very powerful. Just like you I have always taught this as a skill, not as a relationship. The geometry teachers will have to be the judge for retention. I am hopeful. I love watching your journey. You have been an inspiration on my own travels.

    1. Hi Kim,
      Thanks for commenting. Interesting that you start with roots - I actually like it. We always teach "operations with polynomials" (adding, subtracting, multiplying) and then factoring BEFORE we even introduce parabolas graphically. I like the idea of making the connection sooner. If you don't mind, could I take a look at the GoogleDoc your students put together? It would give me a better visual of what you had them do.
      All the ideas always seem to come AFTER I've taught it... i'm already on maternity leave so I can't even try any of this fun stuff out until next Spring!!

      Thanks for following along my crazy journey :)


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