Stations in Balance

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SWBAT solve one step equations using addition by traveling through four rotations of differentiated work.

Big Idea

students rotate through 4 stations; at one station small groups of students are shown the solution to an equation by using an algebra balance.

Do Now

15 minutes

Students enter the room silently according to the Daily Entrance Routine. They find Do Nows on their tables awaiting them and there are two student names on the white board. I wait for everyone to sit silently and begin working and then ask those two students to go put up their work for the indicated problem. I remind all students that they are not to have a conversation with students displaying work on the board, even if they make a mistake!  

We review question 1 where many students are likely to subtract 7 – 9 before distributing. This is a good time to review order of operations and the fact that the first step should be distribution. Question 2 is again a review of distribution as well as combining like terms to simplify. Many students are also struggling with the distribution of a negative which comes up in both of these problems. Students are asked, “what is being distributed?” In problem two, the answer is negative 1 and negative 4. Getting students to say the signs in the products of each problem is important because these are often the main reasons why these problems are missed.

Question three is a review of the use of the associative and commutative property to simplify. Students are asked to consider pairs of numbers that fit well together, and to explain why they go well together. How can we restructure the problem so that the numbers are easier to add? (MP7)

Homework Check

The answers to the HW assignment were provided on our class website. The answers are displayed again on the board and students are encouraged to ask questions about the work shown. 


20 minutes

Four tables (groups of 8) are merged in a corner of the room. This task will rotate students through 4 different stations. I will be at the merged group of tables showing an example of solving an equation with a Learning Resources 4 pan algebra balance. At the other 3 stations I will have student Chelpers leading groups through word problems, combining like terms, and distributing to combine like terms. Each of these student chelpers will be given specific expectations to be upheld by all students. The choice of the chelper must therefore be strategic, a student who can be trusted to follow through. 

The pan balance I am using at my station can show negative numbers weighing less than zero. We can also model simple equations on the balance such as #17:

 x + 2 = 6

The subtraction on both sides of the equation can be shown on the scale by removing two chips from either side of the balance. A canister serves as a variable. There are multiple canisters to model multiplication later this week as well.




I continue to check in on the distribution of negative numbers with the part 1 answers. I have a smaller white board at the table of 8 where I show how to simplify step by step as shown in the examples below:

12) 3a – 7b – 1 ( 4a – 3b)

= 3a – 7b – 4a + 3b

= 3a – 4a – 7b +3b

= –a – 4b


13) 15x – y – 5 ( 3x – 2y + 5z)

= 15x – y – 15x + 10y – 25z

= 9y – 25z 


10 minutes

Students head back to their seats to continue working silently and independently. Students who answered 13 questions correctly will receive a homework pass. 

Some errors I on alert about include distributing incorrectly and combining terms that are not alike. Question 4 - 7 and 11 - 13 should be put up on the board as they pose the most opportunity for error in both of these errors.