Do you use the ladder method in middle school or elementary math, to find GCF, LCM, or for any other math concepts?
If you haven't had the chance to use the ladder method (or the upside down birthday cake method, as some call it), I highly recommend it.
Uses of the Ladder Method
As you can see in the anchor chart (sorry it's not as pretty as some!), math students can use the ladder method for greatest common factor (GCF), least common multiple (LCM), factoring, reducing fractions, finding prime factorization, and for finding the least common denominator (not pictured)! So many uses!
Benefits of Using the Ladder Method
1) What I really love about this method is that the process is the same for each use; the outside numbers are just used differently. I love the fact that the continued use of the ladder method (for various math concepts) leads middle school math students to make greater connections between numbers.....and finding factors seems to come more easily.
2) In addition to helping math students find GCF and LCM, using the ladder method helps students see the relationships between numbers more clearly. It's very easy to see what factors the numbers have in common and how those factors 'contribute' to the LCM or GCF.
Ladder Method for Factoring
When I started using the ladder method for factoring, students picked up the factoring concept MUCH more quickly than when I hadn't used it.
The steps to use the ladder method for factoring are:
1) Put the expression into the ladder.
2) Take out the common factors, one at a time (common factors go outside the ladder, then divide each number in the expression by that factor and put the quotient below the numbers in the ladder. Repeat until all common factors have been 'removed.')
3) Multiply the numbers on the left of the ladder - these are the GCF and go outside the parenthesis in the factored expression.
4) Put the numbers at the bottom of the ladder into the parenthesis.
The short video below demonstrates how to factor a simple expression.
Ladder Method Resources
A while back, I wrote a guest post about the ladder method on Rachel Lynette's blog, so if you're interested in reading more, check it out here. I shared a ladder method fold-it-up in my guest post, but you can also click on the image here, if you'd like to download it.
I've also created a fun Doodle Notes page to help students with the Ladder Method!
Click on the image, to see it on TPT.
If you haven't used the ladder method before, I hope you'll give it a try! If you have, I'm sure you understand why I love it:-)
To read next:
Use the Date to Encourage More Math Thinking in
Middle and Elementary School
How Can You Use Math in Writing the Date?
In 2015, I started adding a little extra math into my classes, homeroom and last period (homeroom students again) - by using the date! I had done this years ago, but hadn't used the idea in a while, so I brought it back to my middle school math classroom in two ways
Math and the Date Method 1:
1) Use all the digits in the date to create an equation. The digits should stay in the same order they are in the date, and any operation signs can be added in between any digits. The equal sign can also be placed between any digits.
Digits can be used as exponents, as in the example shown, and you can add square roots signs if you can find a way to use them.
Math and the Date Method 2:
The other way I used the date was to write the date so students have to evaluate an expression for each number in the date.
It's been fun to see some students writing these in the corner of their notebooks during class! Others have asked to write their equations or expressions on the board during the last period of the day.
Five Benefits of Using Math Dates
What I love about these ideas is that they:
* Students can evaluate the expressions (using the bar as a
division sign - a student did this on his own one day!)
* If you happen to make a "mistake," students can find it and
6. EXTRA Math Benefits
Other fabulous benefits of using the Math Dates. You can:
Introduce Math Concepts
Where Can You Find Math Dates Created for You?
At this time, I post math dates at the beginning of every week on Instagram (always on Instagram) and Facebook (most weeks on FB), so if you'd like to use them, I hope you'll follow me on one of those platforms (if you aren't already).
I created Math Dates resources for you to use throughout the year - these have been published by individual months and as a year-long resource on TPT. I've added nearly a year of dates for upper elementary math as well.
To read next:
Hey there! I'm Ellie - here to share math fun, best practices, and engaging, challenging, easy-prep activities ideas!