I have a fun activity I created with @AliceKeeler using a Google Expedition and spreadsheet activity to reinforce WHY we need to solve for y or another variable in literal equations. [I will link here when I post this activity, didn’t realize I hadn’t posted this activity!] For some students, this is enough, but for others, they need more time with the actual process of HOW to solve for y (or another variable). One of my colleagues found this idea on I Speak Math. Now if you don’t follow Julie on Twitter or her blog then you are missing out. Pause reading and go follow her right now, you won’t be sorry.

I switched it up a little and used Starburst instead of Kisses. I also had counters that were red on one side and green on the other. I loved that as students balanced their equation, they physically flipped the counters over to show the sign change.

I used her activity sheet (see her post), but then continued to practice by putting equations on the board because my students wanted to practice more. We also ended putting an example in our notes at the request of the class. We also added examples with negative y but flipping the cups upside down. We have to switch the sign (change colors of Starburst or flip the counters over) to put the cups upright. You can’t put candy in an upside-down cup.

Here’s what I love about this activity. 1. Students were physically balancing these equations and could see why terms change signs. 2. When students tried to combine a variable and a constant I could remind them that you can’t add counters and Starburst together. 3. They now understand why you divide EVERY term by y’s coefficient; you have to know how many will go into each cup. I have referenced this activity many times while continuing to work with students. Thanks Julie for the awesome idea!