After having a disastrous concept assessment on California State Standard 4, Simplifying Expressions, Equations and Inequalities, I decided we would spend a day reviewing, before we began solving equations and inequalities. Although the activities were all fun, the followup assessment was still not as successful as a I hoped. It really seemed like they understood, but, it didn’t show on the quiz.

1. First we did a Tarsia puzzle, in partners, on combining like terms.

2. Next we did the Kagan structure Mix-N-Match (I think that was it). I made 18 cards with distributing expressions (orange) and 18 cards with expressions that were already distributed (purple). Distributive Property Matching Students stand and find their match. They celebrate, switch cards, and then we do a minute of just walking around and swapping cards with people who have the same color. Teacher says freeze and then they find their new match. We did this a few times. I also had them try without talking. They said this was the best activity of the three.

3. Last we did the Kagan structure Simultaneous Roundtable. Four similar, yet different, unsimplified expressions were posted on the board (I used Kuta to make them). Each member of the group wrote one down. Then papers were rotated. Students would do the first step for simplifying the new expression in front of them and then pass it again. We continued doing a step and passing papers. The last person checked the work and wrote a new problem. We did this for 3 rounds. It was a little confusing, but they got the hang of it and I plan to use it again.

I have an Algebra Support class with 23 of my Algebra students. So we did another activity a few days later. Luckily half of the class were catching on so we did a speed dating kind of activity. I assigned coaches and students and they each had one worksheet (Kuta!). I announced a problem number and the student attempted the problem with the coach looking over their shoulder and helping if needed. It was awesome to hear them helping and talking math. When finished, I showed my “student’s” paper (I was a coach, too) on the document camera. Then the “students” rotated to a different coach and tried a different problem. Every student got to be with every coach. I thought it went well.

These are wonderful ideas and I love the way you’ve incorporate tried and true Kagan structures into math. I’m nt familiar with Kuta. What is it?

Last question. Do you think they weren’t successful because they didn’t get enough practice or because they needed more instruction?

Thanks!

Kuta is a problem generating software. So I am able to use it to create similar problems of one type. They have several options of types of problems, and different levels. I gave in and bought it this year, and I am happy I did. They have a 2 week trial.

I think they need both more practice and more instruction…but I really think it needs to be more small group/one-on-one. I still have about 10 students who are unable to combine like terms in my algebra support class. Tomorrow, I am going to pull them aside and try again. We do the circling like terms, we’ve done the algebra tiles…I am not sure what else to do. Some of them are just not getting the concept that you can’t combine 2x and 1. Others are trying to solve them like equations. I will just keep trying!

Maybe you can try an apples and oranges analogy? You could even write it without spaces to keep it in context: 3Apples – 5Oranges + 2Apples 😀

I used a modified version of your Distributive Property Matching cards with my classes today, and the kids loved it! (Modified because I teach 6th graders in a state that has already adopted CCSS, so since 6th grade CCSS doesn’t cover operations with integers). I’m so glad that you suggested the “silent” matching — my students were convinced that it would slow them down (we did it on their 3rd try), but most classes actually got FASTER on that round! They had been pretty loud on the previous rounds — and I think that the silence allowed them to actually hear themselves think! Thanks for sharing a great activity.

Great! Thanks for letting me know. And I should have used that type of activity today…I totally forgot about it! Argh.

I did an activity on smart board before introducing combining like terms. Math without numbers.

I did clip art of ants and frogs. Ant + frog + frog + ant + ant. Ants and frogs cannot be combined so we had 3 ants plus 2 frogs was the simplified answer. Then we went into a + f + f + a + a = 3a + 2 f. Maybe this would help those having difficulty.

Thanks!

Great ideas! Our school is a Kagan school, but I was knew and never really had any training until a couple weeks ago. It’s great to see other examples of how it worked in the classroom! I also like the puzzle activity, do you have that as a document that you could upload? Thanks for the ideas!

I really likes the frog and ants idea, i use a similar approach but with money. I have a combination of pennies, nickles, dimes, and quarters. You can’t combine the different coins. Then i extend it to P,N,D, and Q. Since you are talking about money it seems to get the idea across.

Love IT! Do you have an electronic copy of the tarsia puzzle for combining like terms?

I will scan a copy in the morning.

PDF posted!

Hi, Love these ideas and had a question about the coaches and the students.Do you pick them or the students decided on it? Which one do you think is better?

I picked them based on how they did on the previous quiz/exit ticket.

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