Can We Talk? A Meeting of the Minds!

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SWBAT create definitions and problem solving assessment questions using application of vocabulary knowledge.

Big Idea

Students will take a list of key terms without the definitions, discuss what these terms mean to them in their group, and create a problem to solve from each term. Each group will create an assessment for each other group to complete.

Teacher Guided Notes

For day one of this lesson, you will assess what students already know about key words crucial to understanding for the unit of equations and expressions.   Students will create problem solving questions for each term.  This will assess how well they are able to apply what they understand about each key term. 

This is not an easy task.  Students may have little to no knowledge of some of the key terms.  This will frustrate students (MP1).  I like to guide students through this process by getting them to a starting point.  For example, let’s take the term Variable, if a group of students have no idea what a variable is, I will ask guided questions such as “In 6th grade you had to write, read, and evaluate expressions in which letters stand for numbers. How can this help you with the term variable?” For educators, coherence is so important.  We now will benefit from knowing the CCSS from previous years, as well as upcoming years. is a great resource to use to familiarize yourself with the Common Core State Standards.  If there is a term in which they have not yet been taught, I always like to find something from a previous lesson, unit, or standard that they have been exposed to in order to help them formulate a starting point. 

The daunting task for you as the facilitator of this lesson is to keep students motivated, and to help them through the frustration this lesson may bring.  Students will utilize deep critical thinking skills in order to create their assessment questions.  You will want to check in on each group frequently throughout the class period in order to make sure their assessment questions are grade level, content area appropriate, and useful for the upcoming unit.  It will be helpful to start the lesson with sample assessment questions so that students are aware of the expectation of the lesson.  I like to use a game from the  to show and explain example questions.  The focus of the assessment questions should be the application of vocabulary knowledge, and not just on the definitions.  Students will struggle with this at the start, but once you work with each individual group they will get the hang of it, and surprise themselves and you with great work that displays deep thinking.  

Bell Ringer

15 minutes

Bell Ringer:  As the students walk in the room, have them seated in their colored groups.   This game will not be used for a competitive purpose, but more for examples of sample questions.  I like to go through each question and identify key terms within the question that students will need to understand in order to solve the problem.

An example question with this particular game would be:

The sum of a number and 5 is?

  1. N – 5
  2. 5n
  3. n + 5
  4. n/5


I ask the students, what do we need to know from the question to respond correctly?  Student response will include, “We need to know what sum means.”  I will acknowledge that we do need to know what sum means and ask, “What does sum mean?”  Students will respond with it is the answer you get when you add.  I will then say how this can help us answer the question.  Students will begin to use the elimination strategy and answer with the correct response C. Another response would be “We need to know what sum of a number means?”  With this response I will encourage them to find the meaning of sum then talk about what we call a number with an unknown value.  This will lead students to variable. This then will lead students to think about addition with a variable, and thus lead them to the correct response C.  This gives insight on how I use online games in group discussion. The bell ringer will take approximately 15 minutes if you go through each question.  If you feel your students understand the expectation after a few questions, please feel free to move forward to the activity of the lesson. 

Activity- Creating Definitions and Assessment Questions

30 minutes

Activity: Hand out the list of key terms you’ve identified important for the Expression and Equation units. Instruct the students to create definitions from prior knowledge for each term.  Once students have completed creating each definition, instruct them to create a problem solving question for each term.  Refer back to the bell ringer discussion. 

 Within their groups they must first create an accurate definition for each term.  During this process you will want to make sure each group is on task and the definitions are appropriate to the term.  This is important.  Students will need accurate definitions in order to create effective problems.  Some groups may need your guidance through this process.  While helping students through this process, I like to help them recall prior knowledge rather than give them the answer.

As the groups complete the definition portion of this lesson, instruct them to create assessment questions.  When monitoring the progress of each group you will want to be sure to refer back to the bell ringer so that the expectations for each assessment question are clear.  

Exit Ticket

5 minutes

Exit Ticket :

The exit ticket for this lesson will be to hand in the completed definitions and assessment questions.  The designated captain of each table will turn in the exit ticket.  Once the captain of the group successfully turns in correct definitions, and assessment questions, release the table to line up.  If there are any groups that need to continue to work on correct definitions or assessment questions, they may come up for lunch bunch.  


2 minutes


As students walk out of the door to their next class period, hand out the Rewriting Expressions worksheet.  This worksheet is a great intro to the upcoming lesson for the CCSS 7.EE1.