Solving equations is one of the MOST important things that I do with middle school students (other than fractions, of course). I want them to learn the “process” of solving equations with simple, one-step equations. Hopefully when we get to multiple step equations they will have a process to fall back on.
I always start with Hands On Equations. I do not use their “number dice” because I want students to physically move EACH unit from each side. So, I use integer counters instead. I also made my own worksheet to go with it because it matches many online equation solving (virtual manipulative) websites. I link to these sites on my Concept Help Pages and don’t want students to be confused.
This year, I also had students do the Khan Academy’s equation solving intuition problem set before we even started the Hands On Equations. (Here is the explanation video – but none of my students needed it). They understood the concept of the balance AND really got a kick out of the little characters (representing the variable) on the Khan site. That also gave me an idea! Khan called the guys “Pants” or “Old Spice Man” but I decided that WE would call them MONSTERS!
I used the Hands On Equation manipulates (which I called TOYS so they loved them before they even saw them) and my own worksheet (below) which they LOVED because I let them draw MONSTERS on it. Of course we needed to get the MONSTER (x) by itself before it gobbled up the poor little integer circles. Seriously. Gold.
OH MY! How 6th graders LOVE monsters. They have begged and begged to do more equation solving – just so they could draw more monsters!
I still can’t believe what the right “spin” can do to a lesson with 6th graders! Have I said how much I LOVE 6th graders? My worksheets are shared below. 🙂
Foldable for one step equations with multiplication and division.