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Going from teaching 9th grade to 8th grade, it was clear to me that simplifying algebraic expressions is quite challenging for my students in both grades. This unit is intended to help them overcome their difficulties with this topic. It can be taught in collaboration with the units of three other Fellows of the YNI 2017 seminar, From Arithmetic to Algebra: Rachelle Soroten, Jeffrey Rossiter, and Sally Yoo. The related units cover the topics of word problems, translating word phrases, and solving equations. This unit will specifically cover translating complex word phrases into algebraic expressions, and then using the rules of arithmetic, also known as the Properties of Operations, to simplify the resulting expressions. The final conclusion is: any combination of linear expressions can be simplified to an expression in the form “ax + b” where a and b are specific numbers. Collaborative strategies will be used to develop this understanding, with the expectation that independent work allow students to build their confidence when talking about math.
(Developed for Pre-Algebra, grade 8; recommended for Pre-Algebra, grade 7, and Algebra 1, grade 9)
Number 16 of the periodical On Common Ground
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