Saturday, February 21, 2015

Balancing Equations

I don't know about you, but my four-day week FLEW by! Between Shrove Tuesday, Flag Day (this year marks the 50th anniversary of our Canadian Flag!), & Ash Wednesday mass, I feel like we barely had time to get anything accomplished this week. Except for in math...

My firsties absolutely knocked.my.socks.off. with how well they grasped balancing equations in such a short time. In the past I have found that this is a *very* challenging concept for most kids to catch on to but this bunch had it going on! I first introduced the concept with this very simple SMARTboard activity:
I made a blank pan balance template with 4 shape choices for us to manipulate. I started off very simple with just pictures and numbers (such as the example pictured above; a number of objects on one side, and a numeral on the other). Because they picked this up so quickly, I moved on to include addition sentences, subtraction sentences, and other combinations for them to come up and balance in any way (i.e. using pictures, numbers or equations)

We used this same file in so many ways all throughout the week: from the students balancing an example that I had provided, to them identifying whether or not my scale was balanced, to figuring out what we needed to change in order to make it balanced.
(FYI: The shapes are infinitely cloned so all you have to do is tap and drag the shape you want to either side of the pan balance. To delete a shape off the pan balance simply select & delete. The 4 shapes will always remain at the bottom.)

Click HERE or the picture above to download the SMARTboard file (for FREE!)

By the end of the week, my firsties were such pros that we played a little "game" where I invited pairs of students to come up and make up their own balanced equations. One student would would begin by either placing objects, writing an addition or subtraction equation, or writing a numeral on one side of the pan balance. Then the other student would decide how to balance the equation on the other side. The rest of us had to give thumbs up or thumbs down to determine whether or not the scale was balanced. It's amazing how much fun they have when they get to use the SMARTboard...it never gets old!

To practice our new skill independently, I put together this little Balancing Equations pack that approaches the concept from a variety of angles. I also ended up using one of the pages as a final assessment piece:
This pack is available in my little store.

I know many of my friends south of the border had a short week as well but for different reasons. I hope you're all keeping warm...just keep thinking: only 27 more days until SPRING! 

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