Monday, April 4, 2016

The Equal Sign

Hello Everyone! 
 I am here to review an ever so important skill that my students struggle with every year.

Think about this...

how many of your students will answer this question in this manner:

3 + 4 = 4 + 11


My heart sank when about 80% of my students answered this question with 11 (after we had been working on it for a very.long.time!)  I learned that they just skip right over the equal sign and add all the numbers together.
Ugh.

Problems like this even throw them completely out of whack:

___= 8 + 4

Wait what?? you mean the SUM can be first??  Oh boy... we have a lot more work to do on this.

So I told my students that we will be doing a problem or two every single day to practice the equal sign.

I wanted to share a few ways that I have been working on this with my Math Workshop groups.

I love to use a "scale" to show equivalence.  It looks like this:
 We talk about how it is a balance and that it has to be the "same as" on both sides of the equal sign.

I'm sorry I don't have that exact scale to share so I made another one for you (image from Discovery Education)

(click to grab)

We first talk about how the equal sign just means that whatever is on one side has to be the same as the other side.  I use cubes to represent numbers first.

We also talk about what it means to be "not equal"



Then I start adding numbers to show the balance of the equal sign.




Then I start adding equations.



Only some are ready for problems like this.  That is why I love my Workshop groups because I can differentiate my groups depending on their readiness for these type of problems.  It is amazing how complex the problems can get!


This is just another way to show equal and not equal.  AND how important it is to show children that the SUM can be first-- this is so tricky for them!



Another activity I had my kids do is they thought of a simple addition equation leaving off the answer.  Then we switch the boards so that the person next to them had to answer the problem.


Of course most would answer in this way:

But a select few would answer in this way:

It was then that I knew that I had gotten to them. Ahhh the feeling of VICTORY! :)

I made a poster for you that I hope you might be able to use.  I will be hanging it in my room for the rest of the year! :)


Finally, this concept has inspired me to add a BONUS to my Word Problem pack- SET 2 and the Bundled Set (links below)

To see Set 1 click {HERE}
Set 1 and 2 BUNDLE (HERE)

The pages will look like this:
Just copy the page, cut it up and the kids have instant practice... and the problems are already figured out for you!! :)


How do you approach the equal sign??  I'd love to hear your ideas!
Thanks for stopping by.



10 comments:

  1. Starting with the first week of school, I teach my students very simple chants and hand motions for +,-, and =. Every time it comes up in class (particularly during morning work and calendar time), we complete the chants, so by the time we are ready for equivalency lessons the kids say, "Equal means the same. Equal means the same. Equal means the SAME!" (Holding their arms in front of themselves in a rough equal sign.)

    +:"Some and some more..." (grabbing the air) "means addition!" (Form a plus sign by crossing arms at chest height.)

    -:"Some and some went away..." (shooing the air away) "means subtraction!" (Form a minus sign by holding one arm horizontally at chest height.)

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  6. Hey Tori!
    I purchased your Skip Counting PPTS and wondered if there was any way to change the speed on the animation pane to go faster because my 2nd graders don't want to wait that long for the next number to show up - they count quite a bit faster. I saw that it said enable editing, but it didn't allow any changes - I love the concept, though!

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    Replies
    1. Hi! I've just updated the counting by 2's and will do the others now. I *think* you have the bundle?? If so... I will do them and add them hopefully today (9-11-16). Thank you for your comment!!

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