I don't know if I mentioned this before last year when I taught algebra 1, but it worked so well this year, that I have factoring geniuses in class - even kids who have trouble elsewhere.
We just finished learning how to factor trinomials of the form axx + bx + c where a is not 1. My retired math teacher friend had taught me this trick (over chips and salsa and margaritas last year), and I tried it out with my class. I had to first prep the period with the following statements:
* I'm going to show you a trick today that's going to be your new BFF in math.
* First I'll predict how the class will go.
* You'll take notes on the process while we slowly go through it with an example and you take notes carefully like you're taking them for your best friend who's absent.
* You'll whine and say, "I'll NEVER like/use this trick. It'll NEVER be my BFF".
* After the 2nd problem you'll say, "okay, it's not so bad. I can be in the same room with this trick."
* After the third problem, you'll quietly wait for the 4th after you finish this current one a little faster.
* After the 4th problem, you'll be ready to marry this trick. Your NEW BFF.
We laughed and got down to business. And yes, I had to make fun of them for each of my predictions coming true. And yes, 2 or 3 classes later, when I came back to this kind of factoring, they almost all of them remembered it.