This year, I combined combining like terms and the distributive property as a skill in Algebra 1. I think I need to split these up into two separate skills in the future. My distributive property notes aren't the most exciting thing in the world. No pretty graphic organizer or foldable. :(

Describing the Distributive Property

I gave them four expressions and asked what number should be distributed in each. I was trying to combat the tendency I've seen in previous years to distribute a number that is separated from the parentheses with an addition or subtraction sign.

I can definitely see making this into a card sort next year!

Then, some old-fashioned practice problems.

I'm currently teaching seniors in a remedial math course. It's designed to help them satisfy 1 standardized test requirement for graduation (psat score, accuplacer, etc). Yes; it is bs. Regardless, it's long been my opinion that the distributive property leads to more errors than assists. Especially when it comes to exponents and their supposed rules. I've clarified more misconceptions writing expressions like (x+3)^2 as (x+3)(x+3) than I should have to. I feel like teaching to distribute teaches students a rule and does not teach the concept of squaring, or doubling. Rules are easy to mix up. If I were to teach Algebra 1 again, I may try just applying definitions of coefficients and allowing students to uncover the shortcuts of rules on their own. I certainly will apply that approach to exponents.

ReplyDeleteGreat discussion topic.