Lesson Plans & Activities

Modeling Algebra

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This lesson is meant to show students the meaning of each process in solving algebra equations, and I find it actually works a little better if students have not yet had direct instruction in solving equations. It's based on "Hands-on Equations," so if you have experience with that, it's a similar lesson.
I typically write each half of the problem on the corresponding half of the scale, then show students how to model the terms. (3 red triangles for 3x; 2 green ones for -2x, etc) I then give them the rules: you can only take away and add values or variables if you do it to both sides (to keep the scale balanced), a negative variable or value will cancel out an equal positive variable or value on the same side of the equation, and the goal is to find the value of 1 positive variable. I also model fractional variables by coloring in a full one. Many students can deduce that multiplication is needed to make it a full variable. It's important to model several problems before starting the game portion of the lesson.
Once students have practiced a few on the mimio, and the other students have been writing out the process using pictures and symbols, the game is a good way to judge progress and provide practice. I typically divide the class into 4 - 6 groups and have each group take a turn. Call a representative to the board and have them spin the spinner to determine a category, then roll the die to get their specific problem. I usually let them have 2 minutes for the easy ones, 3.5 for the mediums and up to 5 for the hard ones. If they can come to the board and show and explain all steps, they get the points. If not, I let the next group have a shot for 1 point, or the next, etc.
Have fun and leave feedback if you like it, or have any questions or suggestions.

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campbell_cw Posted by: campbell_cw

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I hate that I came upon this activity so late into my unit. I'm actually about halfway through the solving equations unit now, but I'm still going to use this activity as a review game! This is very creative, thanks for sharing!

  • Posted:
    Sep. 13, 2012
Posted by
Downloads: 2

Years ago I used the

Years ago I used the "Hands-On Equations" with my 7th & 8th grade pre-algebra support classes. I guess I have not used them in a while and when I saw this, it made me think, "Heh! I should use this for my support classes" Thanks for putting this together.

  • Posted:
    Feb. 12, 2012
Posted by
Pat Yoshiwara
Downloads: 123

Feedback on this Mimio activity

This activity looks great to try. I am going to give it a go with one step equations first and see if the students will jump on board. Thanks for the upload. Nick

  • Posted:
    Oct. 17, 2011
Posted by
Downloads: 187

Great lesson!

I found very creative how you managed to create a game for students to practice "balancing" equations. It is always a challenge to find different ways of teaching math. I would recommend you though to replace the different elements you put in the balance with cloned objects, it will keep your lesson more organized and clean.

  • Posted:
    Nov. 13, 2010
Posted by
Sebastián Paredes
Downloads: 6

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