September 10, 2012

Made 4 Math: Reteaching Solving Equations

Last week in algebra 1, we spent the week learning how to solve equations. I gave the students a quiz on Friday, and as I graded them, I realized some re-teaching needed to be done.

Today I spent the day reviewing how to solve equations using a different method than I did last week. I used this worksheet to help me (I found it online, so I can't take full credit). The first page is all two-step equations. In the first column, I had students translate the math phrases to English. In the middle column, I told students that solving equations is kind of like opening a gift (first someone puts your gift in a box, wraps it up, and ties it with ribbon...then you untie the ribbon, rip off the wrapping, and take the gift out of the box).

Side note: I got the gift wrapping idea from Danica McKellar. I've only read parts of the book, but I plan to do a #MyFavoriteFriday on all of her books as I finish each one.

Back to review, the gift wrapping idea helped! They finally started to see that if we have 3x + 5 = 10, we do the last operation being done to x first. Reverse order of operations. It FINALLY started to click. One student told me it's like you're doing "bottoms up", sure. So in the middle column in addition to writing the inverse operation, I had them write what number goes with the operation. So 3x + 5= 10 would be (1) minus 5 and (2) divide by 3. Last column, they solved.

I created the second page, and they got the hang of this after re-explaining that we do distributing and combining like terms to help us make the equations look like the ones from the first page. For the second page, I only made them solve in the third column.

I think writing out the steps helped my students the most, so next year I will probably start with this activity first when I begin this unit. I think it will really help me have fewer headaches.

Hope this helps!


  1. I am also teaching Algebra 1 and 2 in my second year of teaching! That worksheet is awesome! Last year I taught solving equations like undoing the order of operations/ working it backwards, but I never thought to have the students write out the steps (inverse operations). I think this would definitely help them visualize the process. I will definitely use this! Keep up the good work!

    1. YAY! So nice to meet you! I look forward to reading about your second year journey. We'll be able to help each other! :)

  2. This is exactly what I was looking for! Thanks so much!