# Completing the Square with Algebra Tiles

I can’t remember when I learned how to “Complete the Square”.  However, I don’t know if I ever knew (or even thought about) why it was called completing the square.

I wanted my students to actually complete a square before they “completed the square”.  And, what better way to do this than with Algebra Tiles!  I have an entire class set that I bought for middle school.  I even have a magnetic set for the board.

My Algebra 2 students had never used Algebra Tiles before.  Introducing manipulatives to high school students isn’t always easy, they think they are “too old” to play with them.  One student even (loudly) made a comment at the beginning of class about how silly they were.  However, by the end of class he had changed his tune, and I even had two students ask to take a set home.

I also made an INB graphic organizer that also leads them through completing the square. It includes steps on the back, but my students didn’t like that at all once they actually understood what they were doing.  Love that.

# Help Needed – Algebra 2 Factoring Review?

Help needed!  I have quickly learned (the hard way) this year that Algebra 2 students need mini “refresher courses” of Algebra 1 before plunging into more advanced material.  I gave my students a pretest and many of them also need a review on multiplying polynomials as well.  I plan to review quadratic factoring for 2-3 days in my Algebra 2 class before I jump into factoring polynomials.  Since this is a quick review of a section that takes at least a couple of weeks in Algebra 1, I would love some advice.

My review plan is this –

• Day 1 – Eradicate FOIL – Multiply polynomials by using area method (boxes) and distributive property.  Factor GCF’s.
• Day 2 – Factor a = 1 and special cases.
• Day 3 – Factor a > 1.  Advice appreciated on methodology here.**

** What are your thoughts on factoring when a > 1 in Alg2 and above courses?  The factor by grouping method is a sure thing, but is so much better than “guess and check” (the way I learned and used forever) that it worth the time?  I don’t believe my students were taught this method in the past and I don’t know if teaching them now will a) take to long and b) totally confuse them since it is a more procedure heavy way of factoring.  Plus, in Alg2 + how often is factoring by grouping going to be useful?

For those of you who have been there before, I would love any advice (or anything you have created).