I've written about factoring a few times before, but I seem to learn something new every year. This year, my Algebra 2 class of all boys and 1 girl is obsessed with conspiracy theories. Any chance they get, they start talking about them. Since we started our factoring unit right before the holiday break, I needed a hook.
I put this on the board and asked, "If you were a conspiracy theorist, what connection might there be between the 3, 5, 8 and 15?" They got the connection between the numbers almost immediately.
We then moved on to a quick intro to factoring powerpoint with personal whiteboards.
After this, we moved onto day 1 of our simplified factoring notes. We covered trinomials where A=1 and B and C are both + on day 1. The next day, I walked my students through this warm up template that I plan to use throughout our entire factoring unit. (You can find this template free in the Dropbox section of the sidebar).
One of my students who took both Algebra 1 and Geometry last year, immediately turned off when I introduced our factoring unit this year. He said he already learned it.
When he wasn't sure how to find the factors of C (24 in this case), and I showed him the calculator divide trick (24/2 --> write down 2 x 12, etc...) that works well for students who don't know their times tables, he exclaimed, "Oh, you can use division to find them?" I really emphasize making this list with my students because it cuts down on the time going over and over the same numbers. This list is especially helpful for my kids with working memory weaknesses.
Since we started with a trinomial where A=1 and both B and C are +, we didn't really need to add signs to our factors of C. But, I thought it was good practice for later.
On the last day before vacation, I gave every student a scorecard to record their answers to our zooming Prezi. It wasn't quite a Kahoot, which they love so much, but it still worked pretty well to keep them all engaged on an exciting day.
All of the trinomials in the Prezi have an A value of 1 and + B and C values. If their answers were correct, my students checked the boxes in the very top row. I was able to use my phone as a clicker to advance the Prezi (a few students were impressed - ha!). When we come back from break, we need to finish this Prezi and move on to trinomials with GCFs and - B and/or C values.
How about when A isn't 1?
The best way I have found to teach kids with math disabilities factoring when A does not equal 1 (and is not the GCF) is with the AC method. Here is a student reference sheet for the method.
I like this method because there is absolutely no guess and check, which frustrates my students who already have a tough time with multiplication tables.
Students find the factors of AC that add to B, then replace B with the factors.
You can check out this set of simplified notes, homework assignments and warm ups if your students struggle with factoring.
If you'd like to check out more Special Education teacher blogs, this post is sorted by grade level.