Sunday, February 23, 2014

Setting up Systems of Equations

As I was desperately searching (for a while) for something to boost my systems of equations unit with, I came across this post by Mimi at I Hope This Old Train Breaks Down.  It proved to be a great resource.  Please check it out!

Things I liked about it:

  • There was more than one way to "solve" each puzzle
  • The scaffolding was wonderful! Puzzle 1 and 2 were similar, puzzle 3 and 4 were similar, and puzzle 5 and 6 were similar
  • The questioning at the end of puzzle 1 would help students more easily solve puzzle 2 (etc.)
  • Shapes are much more friendly than x, y, and z.  Students were solving systems without knowing it
Because of all that I didn't want to just give my students the giant (8 page?) packet and have them work alone, so I made some formatting changes before using with my students:
  • I put each puzzle 4/page
  • I typed the questions up on powerpoint
  • I printed each puzzle on a different color of paper
So in class it looked a little like this:
  • We set up a bit of speed-dating scenario so they could rotate partners
  • I passed out Puzzle 1 to all students
  • If they completed it they were asked to answer the projected question on the back
  • After 5-10 minutes I asked students to share out how they found the solution (I made sure to call on many students each time for various perspectives.)
  • We rotated partners
  • I passed out Puzzle 2 
  • Etc.
Here is what it looked like as a quarter piece of paper.  After we were all finished I did have students staple all six together and keep them in their pocket for this section.  As we got into solving systems using substitution and elimination we kept coming back to this idea of the shape puzzle.

Some things I ran into as we worked:
  • Students were using guess-and-check to find their solution.  Some kids have super-awesome number sense and could do this easily, but were then not being stretched to think about substitution or elimination.
  • Students really struggled to explain clearly their solution method
  • In Puzzle 3, some really struggled with that conceptual elimination that needed to happen.  I drew it out to help, but that wasn't enough for everyone.  Here is something similar to what I had on the board

My files:
Note:  The link will open in drive.  You will want to download to see the full version in word.

Overall, I LOVED this as an introduction to systems of equations.  I'm not sure that I will change much about it when I do it next year.  And I have seen it benefiting students as we continue to work on solving systems of equations.

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