Engaging students: Solving one-step algebra problems

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission again comes from my former student Anna Park. Her topic, from Algebra: solving one-step algebra problems.

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How could you as a teacher create an activity or project that involves your topic?

Bingo game:

The teacher will create a bingo sheet with a free space in the middle, and integers in the other spaces. These integers represent the answers to the word problems that the teacher will be putting on the board or projector screen. Each word problem will either be a one-step equation or a two-step equation. A one step equation involves only one step to solve for the variable, this means only one operation will be done on the equation. The goal is to have the variable by itself on the left side of the equal sign and the numbers on the right side of the equal sign. A two-step equation is similar to a one step equation. A two-step equation is where it takes only two steps to solve for the variable in the equation that has more than one operation. The goal is the same as a one-step equation.
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How can this topic be used in your students’ future courses in mathematics or science?

  1. In future courses students will need to know how to isolate a variable in an equation to receive its value. They will need to know how to graph equations and inequalities in future mathematics courses. From Algebra and on students will need to know how to solve for the value of a variable.
  2. Students will also need to know how to create an equation given to them in word problems. Some of the classes that this will be needed for is Physics, geometry, algebra II, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, college courses..etc. Algebra is a tool for problem solving, and critical thinking. Word problems give real life examples of algebra and students will be able to apply this knowledge to real life situations and understand the problems given to them in future classes.


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How can technology (YouTube, Khan Academy [khanacademy.org], Vi Hart, Geometers Sketchpad, graphing calculators, etc.) be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

  1. Kolumath is a great youtube math channel that explains how to do certain math operations with great visual examples and clear explanations. The speaker talks clearly and is easy to understand, and the examples he uses ties in information the students have learned in previous courses. His visual examples allow students who struggle with picturing math functions to connect to the lesson.
  2. This channel also gives definitions over the topic and any definition relatable to the operations done in the video.
  3. Listed below are examples he uses on how to solve one-step and two-step equations. (References)

Solving one step equations:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ot-KSERw8Gc

Solving two step equations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7acIUcQ-7E



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