I highly recommend using some of the fantastic questions that are included on Don Steward’s Resource – English to alegbra
I used this resource with my year 7s. I will admit it was certainly a challenge for them but the value of the activity was excellent.
The resource starts off nice and simple and highlights many of the errors that the students commonly make. The subtle differences between some questions is excellent for this e.g. I think of a number, I multiply the number by 5 and then add 7 followed by a question that is similar but would be I think of a number, I add 5 and then multiply by 7. This led to some excellent conversations and me ensuring I was very clear in my explanations. The students seemed to really understand the concept that a number add 5 becomes a single entity, and so if I multiply this by 7 then the whole of the entity must be multiplied by 7.
I was astonished that some of my students were able to correctly form and solve questions up to question 14! Like I said, I used this with my year 7 class. They genuinely seemed to understand what it was that was happening and I had previosly hammered home that the key word when solving equations is inverse. This did engage my students, to the point where one of them asked (after the lesson) how would you complete question 15 as there are no numbers.
The language that is used is also excellent at showing that when a question involves an unkown, whether that is a number, a ? or a thing, that we can assign a letter to it and work through the problem using this letter. Many of my students commented on the use of the word ‘thing’ and simply stated that they assumed they were again assigning a letter to this. Once again, a fantastic point to address when looking at forming and solving equations.
If you are contemplating an activity for forming and solving equations for any of your year groups, this activity should definitely be included.
The link is below: