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SAVY 2019: Session 5, Day 1 – Solving for the Unknown (Rising 3rd/4th)

Posted by on Monday, July 15, 2019 in Grade 3, Grade 4, SAVY.

Hello SAVY parents!  Our first session flew by so fast as we learned all about how symbols are used to represent unknown numbers in Algebra. Students are encouraged to approach the study of variables, expressions and equations using their number sense, logical reasoning and problem-solving strategies.  Students were introduced to these concepts through interesting problem-solving situations.  They were intrigued to figure out the mathematics behind number tricks and to solve algebraic equations.  In discovering the answers to these problems, students are learning different ways to represent and solve similar types of problems using variables, expressions, and equations. I hope that the experiences and discussions in this unit will provide a rich context for introducing students to algebraic thinking while strengthening their problem-solving and mathematical communication skills.

In our morning session, the students were introduced to three terms: variable, expression, and equation.  They learned to represent relationships such as “4 times a number plus 2” using variables and expressions.  This is sometimes referred to in algebra as translating between words and symbols.  Finally, students wrote equations where particular expressions are set equal to specific values.  Students used math strategies like working backwards to apply the opposite operations to undo the operation and determine the value of the variable in the equation.  The students did a really good job with our sorting activities. In round one they were given one-step numerical and algebraic equations to match up.  We were able to level up in the second round to two-step equations which was a bit of a challenge for some.

In the afternoon session, students analyzed a card trick, then wrote a rule to use to generalize the outcome of the trick.  This lesson was a continuation of the first lesson that allowed students to use variables to represent changing quantities.  They are also starting to understand the circumstances where a variable represents a specific unknown. Tomorrow we will continue Lesson 2 as I will allow the students to create a number trick of their own and have them to represent the solution to the trick algebraically.

Looking forward to the rest of the week! Thank you so much!!

–D. Polk

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