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Rational Expressions Killing Cats Poster

My Algebra 2 kids are working with rational expressions.  I’m pretty sure it’s my least favorite topic to teach in the world.  It’s tedious, and it’s a nightmare for my students who haven’t fully mastered factoring.  My students have traditionally struggled with remembering that they can only cancel factors and not terms.  I started fighting against this a couple of years ago by telling my students that every time they canceled out terms, a kitten died.

I originally found this on Math Curmudgeon.  There’s a whole set of pictures of different animals dying for various common math mistakes.

This year, to build anticipation and provoke curiosity, I hung this poster up in my classroom a couple of weeks before our unit on rational expressions.  Of course, my Algebra 1 kiddos ended up asking the most questions about it, and I had to explain that it was an Algebra 2 thing.  They hate when I tell them that something is for another class.

rational expressions - every time you do this a kitten dies poster

I make a really big deal whenever someone kills a cat and I have to change the count.  And, the kids are always watching to make sure I accurately update the count each day.


Monday 2nd of November 2015

I mentioned a kitten dying to my Alg. 2 class and it worked until one boy said, "I have a large dog and I hate cats, so it doesn't bother me." Ugh. Thanks for sharing your ideas and experiences!

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Tuesday 3rd of November 2015

I unfortunately have some of those students, too...

Natalie Holm

Sunday 1st of November 2015

Love this, Sarah! I may incorporate something like the kitten dying into my unit on parallel lines that we are getting ready to do in geometry. Students always want to say that "If angles are corresponding, then they are congruent" missing the fact that *the lines must be parallel* !!! I've tried all sorts of things over the years to get them to stop making that mistake... maybe a kitten just needs to die in order for them to get the point. :) Thanks for sharing all your ideas... it's such a joy and pleasure to peek inside your classroom on a regular basis. Blessings to you, my dear!

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Sunday 1st of November 2015

Thanks Natalie!


Saturday 31st of October 2015

I heard Dan Meyer speak yesterday about "If ___ is the aspirin, what is the headache?" If simplifying rational expressions is the aspirin, what is the headache?" He showed 3 rational expressions being added (need a common denominator, factor, etc) and asked why would they need it? Then, it simplified to (x-4)/(x-6). Give the original problem to the kids, ask them to evaluate when x is say 2. Then, you do it after them without showing them you are using the simplified version. They see you are doing it more quickly, more efficiently, which way do they want to do it? Does that make sense?

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Tuesday 10th of November 2015

My kids even have started updating it themselves!


Sunday 1st of November 2015

I was there, too! And I sat next to Jen! :) And I love the motovation of the cat safety count. I think combining the two wpuld actually make this dreariness not so painful.

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Sunday 1st of November 2015

I read his post about this, but I'd completely forgotten about it. Thanks for the reminder!

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