The Algebra Toolbox

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. – Abraham Maslow

Activities for Translating Algebraic Expressions

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These are quick, review-type activities that I use after I teach translating Algebraic expressions. I will start with the cool notes from @Middle School Math Madness in her post for Translating Words into Math.

The rest of the week will include a variety of review activites to provide practice with the operation words.  All of my classes sit in teams of 4, so most activities are for small groups.

Word Sort – copy the words on card stock and cut apart, one set for each group.  I put the heading cards (addition, sub, mult, div, parentheses) on a different color paper. These heading cards are used again in Hot Seat and the rest are used again with Four Corners.  Give each group an envelope with all the operation words and the heading cards in it. They work together to sort all the words under the correct heading (add, sub, etc). Operation Words sort

Four Corners (except there are 5, so I guess it’s five corners??) – post the large operation symbols and the parentheses on the wall around the room (I made an x and a dot for multiplication – use whichever). Give each student a card with a phrase on it (from Word Sort). They go stand near the operation sign corresponding to their card.  They compare cards and check to see if everyone is in the right place.  4 Corners Operation Signs

Language of Algebra Game – copy the cards onto card stock. One set for each group of 4.  The game plays like Rummy.  Pass out 7 cards to each player. The rest go face down in a pile. The goal is to make a “book” of cards – 4 expressions that are that same. The directions are with the cards.  Language of Algebra Matching

Hot Seat – use the heading cards (add, sub, mult, div, parentheses) from the Word Sort.  Students get in single file lines of 4 or 6 facing the board. The last person in the row gets the heading cards. Everyone else faces forward so they can’t help each other. I show a word/phrase from the powerpoint and the last person decides which card is the right operation and passes it the person in front of him. If that person agrees, he passes it forward. If he disagrees, he passes it back. When a card makes it to the first person in line, if they agree, they hold it against their chest in and face me so I know they are registering their “final answer.” The first team with correct answer gets 2 points, any team with a correct answer gets 1 point. They rotate the front person to the back and start over.  Hot Seat Operation Words


Author: lzlomek

I teach high school Algebra I and am constantly looking for ways to improve my practice and engage my students!

One thought on “Activities for Translating Algebraic Expressions

  1. Great review games! I am definitely going to use the Word Sort with my 7th graders! Great intro into PEMDAS!

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