How to Factor a Trinomial if the GCF of the Three Terms is Just 1 Spring 2014

How to Factor a Trinomial if the GCF of the Three Terms is Just 1 Spring 2014
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This is a copy of the notes I photocopy for my students and hand at out the start of the block. I project one copy of this on the overhead projector, and we work through the two examples at the start of class.

(There are three copies of the same information on the page, so run off one copy for every three students and cut them before you hand them out.)

I immediately follow this up with a worksheet where they practice this skill, but I think it is very helpful for students to have a step-by-step process they can follow in the early stages of learning to factor trinomials.

I have found that after 3-4 days of practice, every one of my students is able to factor trinomials correctly.

Back in the day, I used to try to give a thorough lecture on every topic I taught: I did at least three examples (a medium-difficulty problem first, then a simple problem to reinforce the concept, and then a more challenging problem), making sure to incorporate every conceivable 'hiccup' the students might stumble over in completing their book-work.

After years of doing this, I realized that there was always very little time left during the class for students to actually do the work, particularly more challenging work (since the lecture was so long on the days with the most challenging material), and only the best students would bother with the homework.

Furthermore, despite how diligently students took notes, it was rare that they would ever look at them.

Finally, I had to admit to myself that even though I was perhaps more interesting and engaging than the average teacher, my lectures were still pretty boring.

In the past few years, I've changed how I teach. I try to replace lectures, as much as possible, with worksheets. Instead of me talking the kids through the 'hiccups,' I simply wrote a worksheet to "hold their hands" through the spots that traditionally caused problems.

I open class (at the bell) with a brief 'mini-lesson' or sample notes, lasting no more than 15-20 minutes, and that's what this resource is: it's what I give the kids in my mini-lesson to convey to them the most basic of the information they will need for the day. By giving these directly to the kids, it saves the time they would otherwise take copying everything down, and as a matter of fact, notes have become optional in my class, as students who simply pay attention do much better: the bulk of the material is covered on the accompanying worksheet!

If you can project these on the board and photocopy them so kids won't have to hand-copy them, I think you'll find, as I do, that the lessons get under way much more efficiently, and there is much more time available during class for them to do the work during class, while I'm there to help them.

Immediately before this mini lesson, I use the worksheet named 'Factoring Polynomials Part 1 for Algebra Spring 2014' (, and immediately after this mini lesson, I use the worksheet named 'Factoring Polynomials Part 2 for Algebra Spring 2014' (

Keywords: Jonnard
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