Thursday, March 31, 2016

GCF of Polynomials - Let the Students Create the Problems

I'm about to start factoring with my Algebra 1 students and I wanted to start with GCF of polynomials.  Do you know how hard it is to find a worksheet on GCF of polynomials.  Even the pathetic textbook collecting dust on my shelf has no practice problems for this.  I thought, "Well, I better buckle down and start creating these problems."  But then I had a better thought, "Let the students create the problems."

I teach this class twice a day and before I had my epiphany, I taught the first one (2nd Period).  I'm certain their lack of understand influenced my epiphany.  So, period 2 suffered through countless problems on, while I suffered through countless complaints about how hard it was.

Insert great idea.

Now it's period 4's turn.  I gave each student two index cards and instructed them to write their names at the top of each one.  Then I wrote this on the board and asked the students to write a monomial in each box.

Next they needed to distribute the problems (something they are proficient in).

Once I collected the cards, I told the students that we would now be working backwards.  I was going to write the "answer" from the index card on the board and they would have to figure out the "question".  This went much better than the other class and here's why I think that happened: For one, the students created the questions and this gave them ownership of the lesson (they especially like to know who's problem they were solving); also, the students were able to see where the problems came from, and that they weren't just plucked from the air.  This wasn't just another rule to learn like Period 2 seemed to believe.

Now I have more problems than I know what to do with.  These problems will become the review problems and the test problems.  All created by the students.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent work here. Asking students to create the problems reinforces division as the inverse of multiplication, and gives them investment in the work as they solve each others' problems. I have had the same experience with my students that you describe - they all want to know who wrote each problem, and for some reason it is motivating for them. Plus, when they create the problems, they are doing the work instead of you!

    In case you do want to find some other factoring resources, it seems that they are pretty focused on this topic in the UK. Resourcaholic has categorized a nice set of factoring problems:

    And here, you'll find a set to chellenge even the strongest students:

    Thanks as always for sharing!