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 www.teachingwithsmartboard.com . 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!