So this year, I decided to expand on that idea with these doodle notes! I had already introduced variables with symbols on the first day of school, so they quickly saw that the symbols represented variables. But after we did a few examples with the symbols, I saw a lot less errors like 2x+5=7x - and if they did make that error, I could say, "Remember what happened when we did bell minus raindrop - we couldn't actually do that, right? Just like you can't add 5 to 2x."

When I displayed this problem, I asked, "What makes this equation different than the other two?" and students pointed out the "numbers" and "two planes," which we translated into coefficients and like terms.

This also led to good discussion of how you do not need like terms to divide (or multiply).

We did a few more examples until I felt like students understood how to use solve them and then I presented this "Check all that apply" question type. I love multiple-part questions like this that require them to work out several different problems. They had to determine which equations where solved correctly for the indicated variable. This led to some great discussions

Then it was time to practice. Amanda, at Free to Discover, had this awesome Solving Literal Equations Scavenger Hunt, and I was excited to try it out! I hung the 12 problems all around my room and students took their notebook around with them and solved. I loved how these problems really challenged students because several had similar answers.

The product has a work sheet that students can use, but I like having students record their work in a notebook. So, I made a 1x12 table and printed them so students could keep track of their path (using the symbols in the corner). This made it super easy for me to check their work and help set them back on track if they made a mistake.

My admin is still in the process of balancing classes, and my 4th period has 36 students. We make it work with clipboards and folding chairs, but the idea of 36 kids walking around made me a little nervous, so I printed the sheets 4 per page and made a little stacking activity. The students didn't miss out on the rich practice, and I kept my sanity.

I also had one class that was not ready for the problem that required them to factor a GCF, so I just wrote a Post-It on it that said, "Free answer - head to __" and gave them the next picture.

I feel like this lesson was very successful. It helped students with the process of solving equations and I know I will be glad I took the extra time early when we get to linear functions next month.

I hope you find something here the you can use in your classroom too! :)

Thanks for the shoutout, Mandy! I love your strategy of starting with random symbols. I do the same thing when I teach combining like terms. Very helpful post!

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