Sunday, March 20, 2011

You take the Left side and I'll take the Right side

As a math teacher, I give a lot of problems to my students that are equations. This provides a great opportunity for students to work together to solve a problem. Put one student on the left side of the problem and another student on the right side of the problem. Then they can only do things on their "side" of the problem. It was amazing. Basically, it forced my students to work in tandem and at the same speed. Even better was the fact that they had to talk the math out. So one person added something to her side of the equation. That meant that their partner had to add something to their side as well. They would each discuss what had to be done next. If one student tried to do something to one side, the other person would not do anything to their side until things were explained. It was a magical moment. So here is how I designed it.

I did a podcast on this very topic at . Check out Podcast #81.

We were doing 2 step equations in Introduction to Algebra

1. Have the students working in pairs. Have them move their desks next to each other.

2. Have one sheet of paper per pair of students.

3. Tell the student in the left desk that they are only allowed to write on the left side of the equation. Also, the person in the right desk are only allowed to write on the right side of the equation.

4. Give a question to your students that is an equation.

5. Watch your students work together to solve the problem.

6. Monitor your students to see when they might be getting done.

7. Pick a student at random to come to the board with their partner and explain the problem. The pair should bring up the paper they were working on to guide them.

8. The pair should "JUSTIFY" what they do. I like to have both students alternate talking.

9. Enjoy having your students engaged!


Seema Goghar's MSU Blog said...

Hi, thank you so much for this idea. I have been teaching Algebra 1 for several years now and am constantly looking for ways to have students work with each other collaboratively. Solving 2 step equations is an essential algebraic skill, and too often, students struggle with it. I particularly liked your idea of having the students "JUSTIFY" what they are doing. I will definitely try this out.

Sarah said...

This is such a great idea! I have been working on solving multi-step equations with my Pre-Algebra class, and when I have them do partner work, I notice one student doing the writing and the other student watching. This would allow them both to be involved in the problem. I have done worksheets before where each partner has a different problem, but both have the same answer. This works for anything from simplifying expressions, to solve equations, to slope, but I like your take on the idea. I may have to try this tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

This seems like good idea and I believe that it could be very effective... but do you ever worry that maybe only one of the students is doing the work? That one student is just repeating what the other is doing on their side?