Vito Prosciutto: Teaching community college math on the road to a PhD.

Thursday, January 29, 2004


I had better responsiveness from the students today when I taught the Algebra. I think part of it may have been from my pointing out at the beginning of class that I would be officially taking over on Monday and the prospect that I would become their teacher soon made it seem a bit like having a sub for them. We went over the second half of special products of polynomials and I used a grid method for multiplying polynomials to help them see how some of the rules work.

Here's a sample grid to show how it works for (x+3)2:

This was a nice segue from showing how to multiply using algebra tiles and has the advantage that it scales well to multiplying trinomials and longer polynomials.

I also think that for understanding why we lose the middle term in the product of a sum and a difference and for seeing why the middle term of a square is 2ab, this helps make the material clearer.

One last thing was that many of the students were still having difficulty with yesterday's material, so I may end up having to do some re-teaching next week as we get into factoring.

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