Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Distributive Property

Mathematics, Formula, Physics, School  I'm in the beginning stages of teaching binomial multiplication with Algebra I and factoring in Algebra II so one of the first things I'm doing in both classes is to review the distributive property.

I took time today to explain to the Algebra I class that the distributive property was used in one method for multiplying binomials.  This is the first time I used the connection between the property and a second topic so they understand it is used in more than just that one time when properties are reviewed.

When I tried to find ways to connect the use of the distributive property in math such as connecting it with factoring, I could not find anything.  I found a few ways to introduce the topic and lots of ways to teach it but no connections.  So I looked for a couple of different ways to introduce  or teach the distributive property in nontraditional ways.

In Math Equals Love she introduces the distributive property using combinations of food just like you might see at McDonalds or Burger King.  I think this could easily be extended to combinations of candy, soda, or any other food.  I think this is a cool way to introduce or remind students of it.

Although More Time to Teach has material more geared to 3rd grade, her Distributive Doctors idea is easy to adjust to middle school, high school and due to the way things are cut apart, it might make it easier for students to visualize what is happening with the variables and constants.

Math Geek Mama starts with a word problem that she lets students work on before introducing the distributive property.  By going over the word problem, she shows it is a distributive property and it doesn't matter when you double the total.

Now for my take on when we should talk about it in the Math class. When we talk about it while teaching properties, it might be good to show how it applies to multiplication in general, multiplying polynomials by a monomial, factoring in general and in terms of polynomials.  We can also show how it is used all the time when we shop, go out to the restaurant, or figure out candy in a bag.

I think too often we teach the math processes individually without showing how it is going to be used later in the class.  This is one thing, I"m trying to do as I teach my math classes.