Translating Words into Math

So today I did an activity that I really didn’t think would be that big of a deal.  I had a nice little plan for something simple but it turned out to be one of the most successful activities we have done all year!  I think this goes back to my previous post about realizing that I was packing way too much into my activities and expecting a lot more out of my kids than they are ready to give right now.

So originally, I had planned to do this activity from Katie over at Middle School Math Madness.  I love the visual of the signs and writing the words right on those signs.  So much more fun than just making a list.  I also love, love, love the “turn around words” so kids know when those tricky subtraction problems don’t actually go in the same order as they are written in the problem.

Then I saw Sarah’s dry erase sleeves over at Everybody is a Genius.  She did a similar activity but had all of the words she wanted the kids to write on the signs in a dry erase sleeve so they could cross the words off as they placed them.  Love it!

I combined the two together.  I had the kids cut out the signs gave the kids a list of the words in my page protector sleeves.  They had to divide the words up and write them on the signs they belonged to.  Bam!  I had my old group back.  They were all on task and working so well together.  It was perfect!

Also, I overheard this great conversation:

Student 1: I think the word sum needs to go on the equal sign.

Student 2: No, I think it should go on the plus sign, because it tells us to add to get our answer.

Student 1: But I think because it means the answer to an addition problem, it should go on the equal sign.

Me: Wow guys, I love this discussion!  We are actually going to put it on the plus sign because even though it talks about the answer to the problem, it is specifically the answer to an addition problem, so we will put it on the plus sign.

(Now here’s the great part) Student 1: Ok guys, so that means we know for sure where product, difference, and quotient go, too!



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