Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Claw

I don't teach the FOIL method of multiplying binomials to 9th graders. I firmly believe in the power of the distributive property. This year, I stole an idea from one of my new colleagues who calls the distributive property "THE CLAW."

You have to picture drawing the little arrows from the first term of the first binomial to the first term of the second binomial and then the first term to the last term of the binomial. That completes the overhand claw. Then we take the 2nd term of the binomial and repeat. All the while I am very dramatically walking around the room making "claw" movements with my arms. The kids were cracking up and repeating "The Claw, The Claw." There was absolutely no confusion whatsoever during the lesson. We went from problems of the form 3x(x^2 + 2x + 5) to problems of the form (3x + 5)(2x - 6) to (x + 2)(x^2 + 3x + 8).

There was lots of humour in the lesson and most the students were engaged, although quite loud with many of the kids shouting, "The Claw", "The Claw" as they worked the problems.

As each new class came in, they would say, "I heard we're learning something called "The Claw" today. That's right, students were apparently in the hall talking about algebra! Pretty cool!


Theresa Milstein said...

Again, you've impressed me by making math fun.

Mr. W said...

yeah I too mention FOIL, but don't talk about it ever again. I use distribute all the time.

don't know if I could pull of "the claw", but that's what it looks like all the time. In fact I have had students mention it to me before.

Anonymous said...

I taught my students THE CLAW this week - they LOVED IT!! I was able to do multiplying binomials with 7th graders because of it. FABULOUS. Thank you!!

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