The seventh grade students are starting Chapter 3 in our Big Ideas textbook, Expressions and Equations. The first topic up is simplifying expressions by combining like terms.
To help students see a “term”, identify like terms, regroup like terms, and then combine them, I used the “Join the Club” cards from Illuminations. I enlarged them by 125% and printed them on yellow card stock. This was about 20 minutes to copy and cut 10 sets of cards.
In pairs, students drew 5 cards and recorded them in order on a work space I provided. Click here for the work sheet. The sheet had a box to record the term on each card. By using the cards and boxes, students were better able to see each term.
Then the student rearranged the cards to group the x-variable, y-variable, and constant terms. Even the most writing resistant students, rewrote the expression with the like terms grouped. That was a pleasant surprise to the workspace set-up.
Once the terms were grouped, students were able to practice their operations with integers and combine the like terms. Throughout, I modeled the use of vocabulary, using term, like-term, and constant.
The most important part of this activity was every student was actively participation and engaged.