Friday, August 17, 2012

Combining Like Terms

I'm back today with another ISN page to share.  This is another one that I did with my summer kids.  Like yesterday's post, this is one where color helps the kids out big time.  I've found that a lot of kids struggle with combining like terms because they don't really understand the idea of like terms. They can  name them and tell me what they are but they don't "see" them as being different.  I use color to help them see this.  For kids that are struggling with this idea, they use these highlighters constantly through this unit on expressions/equations.

This is the outside of the foldable.

 This is inside the combining like terms door.

They start by drawing lines to separate the expression into a string of terms.  Then they use a different color highlighter for each group and then they rewrite all the like terms together and simplify.

Kids always want to "keep going" at step 4 up there so I try to stress that however many boxes we have is how many terms there are going to be in the answer in the end.

During the school year when I have more time with the kids I would usually do this on day 2.  I did an activity last year that I really liked where I gave each kid a strip of paper where they wrote an expression.  Then they highlighted the terms, physically cut the expression apart, collected like terms, and then combine each group into a simplified expression.  It was a really nice tactile way of doing this and I had them make posters with their examples that I hung up.  It went well and it's something I plan to do again this year.

19 comments:

  1. Awesome! I also linked to this page on a wiki I made for INB content. Check it out here http://inbs.pbworks.com/w/page/57340378/Algebra%201.

    @aanthonya

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    1. Cool! I have a list of the other ISN content I've posted about here (at the bottom) if you're interested in any more.

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  2. I really like your ideas on teaching combining like terms. I would love to see what is behind the "Distributive Property" door!

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    1. Haha I knew someone was going to ask that...i didn't put it up here because I actually didn't like what I did. I'm still trying to come up with something I love for distributing. The truth is that the top flap is empty inside! I'm working on it though so I'll be sure to post when I get something I like.

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  3. Love the foldables and the color-coding idea. I always start my combining like terms lesson talking about food. I don't know why, but that seems to really click.

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    1. That's funny, I usually make a food analogy at some point in there too :)

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  4. Oh my gosh! I love it! I use color to differentiate the different terms, like you do in step one. Then we start combining like colors. I don't know why I didn't think of adding the box part below. I am so stealing this -- just so you know. (ha ha ha)

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    1. What's awesome is that a kid actually thought of that! This summer I told them to draw boxes and one them asked if they should draw the boxes in the colors and I just loved it. Definitely one of those "why didn't I think of that?" type things. Steal away!

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    2. This is great!! I will use this with my students. Color really seems to grab their attention. You are right! they want to continue after step 4.thinking the answer always must A number!

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  5. Dude....I used shapes to separate the terms. All the a's in squares, all the b's in triangles, all they y's in circles, etc. The color scheme is genius! Definitely, enlighten me when you touch on distributive property. I STILL don't like how I teach that. Needs refinement.

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    1. I've seen kids do the shapes too and that totally works for some of them. I'm personally a color person so that's what I gravitate towards when possible. I'll certainly share if I come up with something great for distributing, but nothing has come to me yet :/

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  6. I love that I found this. Some of my students are struggling and this is just another way to show them. I did find an idea that did click with my students regarding powers of exponents (and understanding that x and x^2 are not "like"). PlayStation game consoles! They totally relate that a ps1 is not the same as a ps2 or a ps3! :)

    Julie

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    1. Thanks for sharing, I really like this idea. It's definitely something they can relate to and know well.

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  7. Wonderful post! I've been teaching middle schoolers for a decade and this is the first time I've seen separating the terms with lines. I taught the colors and shapes idea and then banged my head against the wall when the kids just got lost. This year? Those lines made ALL the difference. Success at EVERY level!

    Thank you so very much for sharing!
    Janet

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    1. That's fantastic, I'm so glad to hear that :)

      The lines was just something random that I came up with to help them separate the terms because they forget about the keeping the signs so frequently. I have also done an activity where I have the kids physically cut the expressions apart and the lines kinda relate to that too.

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  8. For distributive property, we talk about how a teacher gives EVERY student that many pieces of candy. Since my students sit in groups of various sizes, we represent that mathematically. Right now I have group sizes of 8, 8, 7, 4, and 4. So I would say, "I am going to give each group three pieces of candy for every person in the group. I could represent that as: 3(8+8+7+4+4) How many total pieces of candy am I giving out? How else could I express this? 3x8+3x8.... " And then I give them the candy and we record this in our foldable with a picture and the written expressions. It works great!

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  9. I've seen how the distributive property is taught with combo meals. If you want 3 combo meals, you'll end up with 3 tacos and 3 drinks. If a combo meal includes a taco and drink. Found it on pinterest.

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  10. distributive property combo meal pic

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6V86GER5WrM/UYe9_bjN9aI/AAAAAAAAAYk/OA2U1m044PQ/s1600/distributiveprop.jpg

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  11. Do you have what you put under the distributive property? Thanks! I love this! I'm an algebra teacher for special ed students and they are struggling!

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