I’m trying a new strategy this year. It’s not something new; it’s actually something many other teachers are already doing in their classrooms. But, this is my first time trying this.

We’ve been practicing applying the distributive property and combining like terms in Algebra 1. I want my students to realize that they can only combine like terms if they are on the same side of the equal sign or inequality symbol. This is a mistake I’ve seen students make over and over and over in the past few years.

Here’s some notes I typed up for my students to glue in their interactive notebooks:

From the comments I received on Twitter when I posted this for #Teach180, it seems like once we start solving equations that this strategy will make students’ work easier to check. That makes me super excited!

Kimberly Beck

Sunday 23rd of October 2016

I hattte the line! My students came into the year with the line and no equal signs anywhere in their problems. :( this year I banned the line. It was a pretty stressful week for my kids. Haha. Instead I have them color the equal sign blue. This way they have the effect of the line but then the line doesn't replace the equal sign or accidentally become a 1.

Carol Rollings

Wednesday 12th of October 2016

I like drawing the line as well through the equals sign. I tell my students that it is like a median on a highway. If you cross over the median without changing directions (changing signs), you will get hit by head on traffic. I then use that saying anytime a student tries to combine like terms on opposite sides or tries to add or subtract the same number on the same side of the equation. This picture has really seemed to help.

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Saturday 15th of October 2016

Great visual!

Sridhar Chandrasekaran

Thursday 22nd of September 2016

Very creative. I've become a regular reader of your blog :)

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Saturday 15th of October 2016

Thanks for reading my blog!

Karen Wainright

Wednesday 21st of September 2016

I talk about the imaginary line through the equals sign and we draw it in as well. I like the way yours are typed up. Do you have a link to your notes?

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Saturday 15th of October 2016

Hopefully blogging about it soon :)

Unknown

Wednesday 21st of September 2016

Great idea Sarah. I do this in my classroom as well and call it the "fence." I always tell my students, "Draw the fence." It really helps.

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Saturday 15th of October 2016

Like the terminology!