Algebra Factoring Basics

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Algebra Factoring Basics

During the second semester of algebra, one of the most difficult concepts for students to learn is the skill of factoring polynomials. The instruction or pre-requisite skills are that students be able to multiply monomials time’s binomials (distributive property in its simplest form, multiply monomials times a trinomial, etc.

Factoring Basics - that help the understanding of Factoring Concepts

Mathematics is a process of inverse operations. In other words, teachers first teach students addition and then teach the inverse operation (subtraction).

We first teach an operation and then teach you how to undo the operation. It is like the undo button on most software applications (subtraction is the delete key for addition). Likewise, we teach multiplication and then we teach division. Next, we teach students how to multiply variables using the exponent property and then the inverse properties concerning square roots. These are simply operations that come with practice. Then the critical thinking processes are introduced.

Algebra Factoring Basic – Prerequisite Skills

The key components or properties that students must know are the distributive property, commutative property, and the greatest common factor, prime numbers and prime factors in order to process the concepts that prepare the students for dealing with solving quadratic equations. During the second semester, everything is building the foundation to help students learn how to solve the quadratic equation and rational expressions.

In eight years of teaching, I have always encountered problems with students trying to factor trinomials. It involves several skills. The following videos are very helpful to students from my experience. If the students can practice these skills in advance of the teaching instruction, it will work.

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The following videos are from the Khan Academy ( which promotes a new way of teaching, the way of teaching for the digital natives, the students of today. More about digital natives click here.

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Finding the Greatest Factor – Least Common Divisor

Factoring a Trinomial

Factoring trinomials with a non-1 leading coefficient by grouping

Factoring Perfect Squares – Factoring Pattern #1

Factoring – Differences of Squares – Pattern #2

Factoring Quadratic Expressions

Factor by Grouping and Factoring Completely

Factoring Special Products

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