This file includes 36 cards with terms (constant and variables) written on them. Hand students a term as they walk in the door and begin class by having them sort themselves into groups by finding people 'like' them. Once students are sorted, have a class discussion about like terms and introduce vocabulary such as 'constant' and 'coefficient'.
Also in this file is a 3-slide powerpoint presentation. Slide 2 includes all of the definitions that have just been discussed (variable, coefficient, constant, and like term).
Next have students work in small groups of 4-5 to simplify expressions. On a form provided in the file, the first student writes an expression using each person's term. The second student writes a set of like terms in their expression. The third student writes another set of like terms, and the fourth student simplifies the expression. When finished, groups hold up their forms so the teacher can check it and quickly address any misconceptions. This can be done multiple times by changing the groups of students and changing the sizes of groups.
Finally, slide 3 of the powerpoint is a challenge problem that requires students to identify coefficients and constants and simplify an expression with more than one variable.
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