I wasn't quite sure what to blog about today, so I started looking through my drafts folder in Blogger. I ran across this post on a question stack I created for factoring trinomials during Algebra 1's unit on polynomials.

I first blogged about this activity in November of 2015. Here's the link to my original post.

I mostly kept the same questions, but I edited some of the problems to make my students have to factor out the GCF first.

Here are the questions:

Here are the answers;

I intentionally added two questions with a GCF of 2 and two questions with a GCF of x^2. This meant that students wouldn't be able to automatically figure out the correct answer just by identifying the GCF.

So, how does a question stack work?

Students are given a double-sided deck of ten cards. One side of the card features a question. The other side features the answer to a DIFFERENT question Many people mistakenly assume that the answer printed on the back is the answer to the question on the front. These may look like flash cards, but they are definitely not flash cards.

Students begin the activity by turning over all of the cards to reveal ALL of the answers. I tell my students this is their answer bank.

Then, students flip over one card of their choosing. This will be their first problem to solve. When students find the solution, it should be in the answer bank if they have done everything correctly. They pick up the solution card and flip it over to reveal the next question.

I love question stacks because they are self-checking. This means I can focus my help on the groups struggling the most. The answer bank gets smaller and smaller with each question which helps build student confidence.

Here are some pictures of my students in action while doing this activity:

Want to learn more about the box method for factoring polynomials? I suggest that you read these two posts: Post 1 and Post 2.

Printable file to create this activity is uploaded here.

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