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# Evaluating Algebraic Expressions

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Algebraic expressions – a key stepping stone toward a complete understanding of algebra. What delineates an algebraic expression from a numerical expression or from an algebraic equation? Why would we choose to use an expression with one or more variables in it when we could just fall back on those reliable expressions with plain old numbers that we have used for the first several years of our schooling? Where are some key areas (areas of geometric figures, temperature, science formulas, etc.) where we may already be using algebraic expressions without being aware of it? And finally, how and why do we use algebraic expressions to evaluate problems? All of these questions are key to establishing not only a student’s understanding of algebra, but also his or her buy-in to algebraic concepts and desire to learn more. Establishing a foundation with algebraic expressions can mean the difference between, “I get it! This stuff is cool!” and, “Get these letters away from me. Math is about numbers!”

This product, therefore, is the first of four products which focus on the wonderful world of algebraic expressions. Whereas this product focuses on evaluating expressions using substitution, the succeeding products focus, respectively, on writing expressions (from phrases and word problems, and then evaluating them, now available at Express Yourself - Part 2: Writing Expressions), on simplifying expressions (using various mathematical properties including the distributive property, and combining like terms, now available at Express Yourself - Part 3: Simplifying Expressions), and on a unit review and final assessment (now available at Express Yourself - Part 4: Review and Unit Test). The four products have now also been bundled into Express Yourself - The Complete Unit, which includes all four products at a discounted price.

This product, Express Yourself - Part 1: Evaluating Expressions, is broken into six primary sections:

1. Express Yourself Warm-Up Activity: In this activity, students are asked several questions regarding numerical expressions, algebraic expressions, and algebraic equations. Through critical thinking and teacher-led discussion, the students’ creative juices begin to flow regarding the types, purposes and uses of expressions.

2. Introduction to Expressions and Evaluating Expressions Using Substitution Notes Pages: These two pages of guided notes allow the teacher to easily walk the students first through the differences between various types of expressions and the different uses of algebraic expressions, and then through the process of how to evaluate algebraic expressions by substituting given values for the variable into the expressions.

3. The Algebraic Expression Cheer: Yes, that is correct, “Cheer”. This is a crowd favorite with the students, gets them thinking even further about expressions, and most importantly gets them pumped up for the worksheets to follow. Do it with the students right after the guided notes, then do it as often as necessary to keep that enthusiasm going!

4. Evaluating Expressions Using Substitution Worksheets 1 and 2: These two worksheets are for all students and stick to the basics. All expressions involve positive whole numbers, so the focus is not on complicated calculations. Rather, it is on presenting the students with a wide variety of formats via which they will see expressions and ensuring they know how to properly substitute and evaluate these expressions in all cases. Expressions are presented in phrases, in word problems, and in tables. Students evaluate the expressions “when”, “where”, “for”, and “if” the variable equals a given value. Worksheet 2 contains more sophisticated expressions than Worksheet 1.

5. Evaluating Expressions Using Substitution – Fractions/Decimals: Once the students have the basics down, it is time to challenge them by throwing fractions and decimals into the mix. In this worksheet, students are again asked to evaluate expressions of increasing levels of complexity (from phrases and in word problems, with single and multiple variables, using PEMDAS), but this time with fractions and decimals included.

6. Evaluating Expressions Using Substitution – Positive and Negative Rational Numbers: This worksheet is not necessarily for all students. Whether or not you use it (or WHEN you use it – you can also choose to save it for later in your school year) will depend upon whether you have taught the students how perform all operations with positive and negative numbers. The front of the worksheet contains expressions involving integers (so it is also possible to assign just the front of the worksheet) and the back contains expressions involving positive and negative fractions and decimals. Single and multiple variables, word problems, and utilization of correct order of operations are again included in this challenging wrap-up to evaluating expressions.

Good luck in your use of Express Yourself Part 1 – Evaluating Expressions!

Related Products:

If your students are not familiar with how to execute operations in the correct order, you may want to go through part or all of Order of Operations Inundation to address numerical expressions and PEMDAS prior to tackling algebraic expressions.

If your students need an introduction to all operations with positive and negative numbers, you may want to use part or all of Integer Indulgence before attacking the final worksheet of this product.

If you would like your students to move from algebraic expressions to algebraic equations, take a look at Equations With Ned, a brand new unit that introduces students to one-step equations in an unique and exciting way, and Equation Terminology Puzzles, which introduces students to the language associated with algebraic equations.

Feel free to also check out a growing number of other products that use poetry, songs, games, worksheets, and assessments to make math fun and help students to learn a variety of common core math standards.

Click here to view Riddle Card Products that Help Retain Math Essentials

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Copyright © Barry Schneiderman. This product is to be used by ONE teacher (the purchaser) for his or her classes only. Any reproduction of this material is limited to the purchaser for his or her classes. Beyond this usage, it may not be reproduced, republished, or copied in any way without written permission of the publisher. It may not be distributed to other teachers, a school department, a school, or a school district. This product may not be posted on any website, including but not limited to classroom websites, school websites, or district websites, without written permission of the publisher. Failure to follow the terms of usage represents a copyright violation per the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). To receive written permission to copy or post this product beyond the terms of use, ask Barry Schneiderman a question on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Total Pages
26 pages
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Teaching Duration
4 days
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