After listening to the Tech Chicks podcast I decided to further investigate Kidspiration 3. I enjoyed the new version. I will be discussing it some more on Tuesday. You can clink on the link and give it a try yourself. They have a 30-day trial available for download. I also discovered Jing which can capture images of anything on your screen as well as record video of what you see and do on your screen.
So I have combined the two and used them to present a 6th grade N.Y.S. Post-March concept (see link below or click here). Solving two-step equations in sixth grade can be a difficult concept for some students. Considering how much time is spent on solving one-step equations in 5th grade (students can solve them both algebraically and through explanation) and then summer comes and goes, I am glad to see students bring forth what they have internalized so far.
I have tried, with some success, to present to students with a scenario to help them think about the process of solving algebraic expressions. I begin the conversation with a visual, in this case a balance scale. I want them to internalize that both sides of the equation are the same and if one side is different in value, then we need to look back at what we had done. The balance scale, although not knew, I think is a powerful mental image in this case.
We then talk about numbers and variable in a problem. I talk to them about numbers and letters being friends. They live across the street from each other. They like to hangout, read books, and play video games. But at the end of the day, numbers need to go home to numbers and letters go home to letters. The equal sign is the street and either the number(s) or the letter(s) need to go across the street to their house. When they cross the street they are crossing the street the opposite (or inverse) way they came. This is why we need to use the inverse operation.
Students have told me in the past that this scenario has helped them make sense of what I was doing mathematically. See below for a visual explanation.
After exposure to one-step equations, I move on to two-step equations. At this point students can make the leap to two-step equations. We work through the same scenaios previously explained and apply it to the new scenario.
For a more thorough explanation, go to the following link: Solving One & Two Step Equations. On Tuesday I will share some more about my experiences with both Kidspiration and Jing.