I LOVE when I can bring the life of a mathematician into a lesson. Binomial Theorem/Expansion is a great example of this! I always introduce Binomial Expansion by first having my student complete an already started copy of Pascal's Triangle. This is one warmup that every student does without prompting. They see it as a puzzle and not "math" but you may have to encourage students to keep looking for the pattern. When they enter the classroom, I hand them the sheet, wear a beret, and only speak in French. My french is limited and it is easy to see who the French students are on how they respond to my questions. I keep up the French speaking through the warmup and then I go into the life of Blaise Pascal. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaise_Pascal) Once that is done I introduce Binomial Expansion and tie that into Pascal's Triangle. I find that this method makes Binomial Expansion a little more exciting. Now, while I find BE very thrilling and lifechanging, my students typically do not. I find the French speaking and little history lesson make a somewhat less thrilling topic a little more exciting. I also recommend teaching your students how to logically expand these problems and not have them memorize the different formulas. This is a concept were students can pick up on the pattern quickly and ignore the formal definition of the formula!
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Natalie Turbiville
Educator who loves math and working with students. Archives
May 2016
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