As my algebra students learn to solve equations of greater complexity, I find it helps them to use the analogy of a "balance" or "seesaw" to help them understand that if you take the same amount off of both sides of balance, the two sides remain equal in weight.
I also find it helpful for students in these early stages to have a "recipe" for solving equations, so this worksheet gives them a step-by-step process to use to solve basic linear equations.
One technique listed on this sheet is the concept of using the "order of operations ladder," which is simply a record of the operations "being done" to a variable, with a corresponding "inverse operation".
For example, to solve the equation 5x + 3 = 13, the order of operations ladder would have the operations "multiply by 5" and "add three" listed on the left, and climbing back up the right side of the ladder, the operations "subtract 3" and "divide by 5" would be listed. Students simply "climb up the ladder" to solve the equation: subtract 3 from both sides, and then divide both sides by 5.
I use this activity within cooperative groups, and I circulate to make sure they are getting the purpose of the questions.
There are two versions of this worksheet: one geared for regular students, and another for honors classes.
The file includes spiral review problems.
This worksheet is intended for students to show their work on a separate sheet of paper.
Please download the pdf preview file first, so you can see exactly what's included; the product file is a word document, which you may personalize for your students.