Factoring is one of those abstract concepts that I often find it difficult to teach, and difficult to connect to students' lives. I have a student now who is preparing for the FCAT, which is Florida's standardized test that is being fazed out with the implementation of the Common Core. Factoring is one of the concepts he needs work on, and I believe I've discovered a more interactive way to teach it.
First, I created some multiplication flash cards that contain most of the larger facts with which he still needs practice. I will give them to him to take home and study. But before that, I will ask him to carefully look at them, and see if some of them have the same answers on the back. (Of course, numbers like 24, 36 and 48 will be products on multiple cards). I will ask him to place like products in piles together. Then, we will select one, for example, 24. We will then review the three cards together; 12 X 2, 6 X 4, and 3 X 8. I can then encourage my student to count out 24 2-color counters, and examine the varying ways that the set can be divided evenly, using the cards as an aid. As each grouping is created, the student can record the fact on a chart. I will also remind my student of the principle of multiplying a number by 1, and include that in the chart as well. After this guided practice, I can introduce the related vocabulary. If time permits, I can release more responsibility to my student, and let him try another number with multiple products with greater independence. If anyone has any other fun, exciting ideas, I would love to hear them.
Take care, and happy teaching. ;)