Distribute and Combine

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SWBAT distribute and combine like terms to solve equations.

Big Idea

Students work in pairs and use clickers to enter solutions for multi-step equations

Do Now

15 minutes

Students enter silently according to the Daily Entrance Routine. Do Now assignments and clickers are already on their desks. Directions on the board instruct students to solve the 4 equations in their Do Now silently, for the next 5 minutes. A timer is set and displayed on the board as well.

After 5 minutes expire, I pull down the shade inserted in the SmartBoard file and reveal the next set of directions. Students now have 5 additional minutes to review the answers with their neighbor. I will be walking around to answer questions. In a continued effort to improve my student-to-teach talk ratio, I am making time at the beginning of class for students to help each other make sense of previous content. I do not want to dominate 15 minutes and risk students tuning me out on important review. The variety of hearing their classmates and me explain solutions will allow students to access the information in different ways.

Once the timer is displaying 1 minute left, I pause it. I ask students to stop speaking and take out their homework. Then I let them know that they will have the last minute on this timer to check their answers and vote for homework questions using their Senteo clickers.  I need to know which problems they need me to review by entering “yes” or “no” for each problem. The video below shows how I would review question #8, a popular vote in each of my classes. The ideal situation here is for students to solve two different ways and share out with the class. We’re crunched for time during this activity, but it is important enough to extend this section and cut time elsewhere. 


Guided Practice

15 minutes

I congratulate students on working hard through that last problem reviewed from the homework. I introduce today’s skill by having a student read the aim. Then I ask the follow up question:

  • Describe the types of equations you think we’ll see today.

I take a few volunteers and then I distribute the class work. I have students take 30 – 40 seconds to review the problems they will need to solve today, thinking about possible questions they might have. Then I ask:

  • Is there a brave soul that can guide me through the solution to this first question?

I ask for a brave soul, but have no problem calling on other volunteers or having students call on each other for guidance. The first part of this section should take no more than 5 minutes. Here’s what this might look like:


After guiding through the first question, a timer is set for 10 minutes and students are welcome to work with their neighbors or independently to complete the rest of the guided practice problems. I sit and work with a smaller group of students still struggling with the concepts. They may elect to work with me, but I also target students whom I cannot trust to make this decision on their own. Students who finish early or have interesting solutions (i.e. dividing by the outside factors to solve as shown in the picture below) will be invited to write their work on the SMARTBoard.


As a motivator and to track progress, students are also expected to click in their answers. Students who answer 4 or more of the GP problems correctly are awarded points on their paychecks and are entered into a cup cake raffle (I purchase large gourmet cupcakes to raffle at least twice a month). Winners are announced at lunch. After time has expired, I display only answers for anything that has not yet been put up on the board. If students have any other questions, they are to ask during independent practice.

Independent Practice

15 minutes

A timer is set once again, for 15 minutes. Students work independently to finish the guided practice and complete problems 7- 14 as well. All problems MUST be entered into clickers. I use them to hold students accountable for the work. Any student who does not complete a majority of the problems receives a lunch time consequence and must complete the work independently during that time. The small group of students I was helping earlier stays together during this time. They must also work independently but may continue receiving my help in the form of guiding questions only. I do not solve for them during this section of class. I am also not sitting with them the entire time, but instead walking around to note how many are still struggling and with what type of equation. This informs the type of problems I include in future homework and do now assignments. 


10 minutes

After the timer runs out, the assessment is stopped. Another timer is set to mark the end of class. Students are responsible for checking their own answers and asking a neighbor or seeking tutoring or time during remediation periods to review anything they answered incorrectly and do not understand. A Thanksgiving Homework packet is distributed once there are 2 minutes left on the timer. Students are reminded that it will be worth one test grade and will help prepare them for their mock math assessment when they return. Odd answers only will be placed on the website as well.