Multiplying Binomials

Last year I taught the Box method and quickly explained the Foil method. My students really took to the Box method and just went at it. I think they actually enjoyed it.

I've recently talked to my students about flipping the classroom next year and they really love the idea of it. I wanted to try it out but couldn't figure out how to convert Jing .swf files to a file that I could burn to a dvd or even play on any type of player. I can almost always count on the Internet to view the .swf file but because of all the tornadic flood weather, you just never know. So instead of a cool screencast and voiceover, I just made PowerPoints. I figured the students would have to think harder without me explaining and there's nothing wrong with that. Besides, I love a good PowerPoint.

Here's the setup. I split my classes up into 3 teams. Each team was sent to view a PowerPoint about multiplying monomials but every team would be viewing a different method.

Box Method
Break Up Out of Jail

Each student was given the same handout to act as guided notes. They would be taking notes on two examples and trying a third example on their own. Every team was completing the same three examples. After everyone in their group was finished taking notes and could fully explain their method, we reconvened as a whole. Each group came to the front and presented their method. They wrote it out on the SMARTboard and explained each step of the process. The rest of the class were watching at this time and not taking notes. Once they were done and students had no further questions, the entire class, even the presenting team, completed a new example on the back of their sheet. This way every student was presented with 3 different methods and practiced each one. From here on out, students can pick whichever method they prefer.

My students really liked the way this lesson was set up. They rated the methods from easiest to hardest as: Box, Break Up Out of Jail. and FOIL Face.

For those of you who are wondering about my title, my students were taught in middle school to remember the distributive property as 'breaking out of jail'. The number on the outside of the parentheses is the jailer and he has to go in to each individual member to break them out of jail. Building on that theme, I called it 'breaking up' out of jail to help symbolize breaking up the first binomial before breaking out using the distributive property.

Here are the resources:

Box Method PowerPoint
Break Up Out of Jail PowerPoint
FOIL Face PowerPoint
Multiplying Binomials Guided Notes

Please download the PowerPoints to see the full effects of the color coordination and animation. No cheezy transitions, I promise!


  1. This looks great! I wish I was teaching Algebra 1 so I could try this lesson. I might also try having expert groups instead of a group presentation too. I love that you are allowing and encouraging students to have a choice!

  2. Thanks, Ms. Armstrong. I planned at the beginning to mix the groups up so that each student had a chance to present their method but somehow it morphed into group presentation which I don't normally do a lot of. There are advantages to both.

  3. The best thing:

    "From here on out, students can pick whichever method they prefer."

    Once you've let them experience them all, they can pick.

    So many teachers fail to do this.


  4. You.have.THE.best.Powerpoints.EVER.

    Thanks for sharing! : )


  5. Oh, and as an extension of "Foil Face" when kids were learning to factor I told them they had to figure out the "chin / grin". It seemed to stick.

  6. Thanks.

    I don't understand the chin/grin though.