# Whatchamacallit

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## Objective

SWBAT utilize appropriate algebraic vocabulary verbally and in writing to interpret parts of an expression.

#### Big Idea

Tired of thingamajigs and whatchamacallits? Prepare your students for the vocabulary of advanced algebra.

## Set the Stage

10 minutes

You may want to use my expression or create your own.

It's important for many reasons that students are able to understand and apply the language of mathematics.  They need it for basic mathematical communication, for all standardized tests including college placement exams, and to build their synapses (more vocabulary = better brain function!)

I begin this lesson with a complicated algebraic expression on board and listen to what my students say as they come into class.  I anticipate that some will initially try to figure out how to "solve" for something while others will recognize that it's an expression, not an equation and will try to simplify it or identify what kind of expression it is. The challenge I pose for my students is to appropriately label all the components of the expression.  This generates questions about what kinds of components can there be in an expression.  Rather than answering those questions I have students work in pairs, using a textbook if necessary to complete the challenge. (MP1 and MP6) As students work, I walk around offering encouragement and redirection as necessary.  I also keep an ear out for any particularly interesting discussions and ask those students to be ready to share what they've talked about with the class.  For example, most students will identify (39/(x+4)) as a term of the expression, but only a few will recognize that taken by itself it is a rational expression with a constant numerator and a denominator of two terms (binomial).  Another interesting discussion might be about whether to consider the third term as a negative term versus a positive term being subtracted. This is an example that allows for deeper thinking about what negative numbers are.  I intentionally select each team to share some aspect of the labeling, so everyone participates.  By making the choices as to who shares what, I can differentiate, allowing my less confident students to share the easier descriptions like the fact that there are exponents of 3 and 2.  I might have a stronger team share that there are also exponents of 1 and -1.   After everyone has finished, I ask the teams to share their discussions with the class.

## Put it into Action

40 minutes

You will need copies of the Scavenger Hunt, challenge, and Math Stumpers Game for this section.  This section of the lesson will be in three parts: first students team up for scavenger hunt to find vocabulary, second, students individually complete a Challenge worksheet then self-check with the whole class, and third, students partner up to play a game.

Team work 15 minutes: I ask my students to work with their right shoulder partner to complete the vocabulary Scavenger Hunt.  I might borrow a class set of Chromebooks so students can access the internet in addition to their textbooks for this activity.  I remind them that they each need to copy the information and to be careful that the definitions and examples actually fit mathematically. (MP6) For example, they can find multiple definitions of the word "term" but most are general and not related to math.  As they work, I walk around offering encouragement and redirecting as needed.  Some students struggle with what I call "Mathlish" (a play on Spanish and English), usually because they don't really understand the words being used to describe the new vocabulary.  I try to help these students make connections to things they do understand and to reword the definitions to make sense to themselves and/or to create examples to help better understand.