Wednesday, April 27, 2005

One-Step Equations

Today's topic: one-step equations (54 + x = 96).

Students can easily solve a problem like the one above, but as we know, at this level (7th grade) they must learn to follow the steps needed to solve an equation: using an inverse operation, balancing the equation, and simplifying. My students are struggling with this.

I think I have found a very effective way to help my students remember how to solve one-step equations. It is quite simple and uses a mnemonic device to help them. Take the process above and use the first letters of each step to make the mnemonic: IBS - inverse, balance, simplify. Then when your students are having difficulty, or you are going over a problem with the class, simply say those three letters, IBS, throughout the entire equation solving process. Post them around the room, have students write them on their papers, and, once again, say them aloud as often as possible. It's amazing how when a student sees or hears IBS, they are able to figure out what the next step is in solving the equation. The mnemonic has two additional benefits:
  • It forces them to write each and every step instead of doing the math in their heads and then writing the solution.
  • It makes them use the vocabulary associated with equation problem solving process.


Anonymous said...

What an excellent idea! I love the mix of practicing basic skills and using the correct related vocabulary. "The more you use it the less likely you are to lose it."

I'm developing a new wiki that will "go live" within the next week to 10 days. Its about collecting and sharing best practices in mathematics education. I hope you'll consider contributing this idea to the wiki.

Anonymous said...


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Unknown said...

Another interesting idea is to remind students about fact families. Students can write out all the related facts in any order:

54 + x = 96
x + 54 = 96
96 - x = 54
96 - 54 = x

Eventually, they will get to this last fact.

Of course, your method is preferable, but just another idea.

Anonymous said...

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