## HANDS ON EQUATION

__About Eu__Eu Hyun (Choi) Tang is a 7th grade math teacher at Volta Elementary School. She believes in lifelong learning and is committed to learning from her Math Professional Learning Community and Instructional Leadership Team. She is a fellow in the MSU Urban STEM program where she is learning to integrate STEM into her teaching & leadership.

__Amazing Teaching Moment__As a student, I was taught Algebra in a traditional method. Teacher demonstrated on chalkboard how to balance equations, and I followed the steps. I didn’t quite understand why we were doing what we were doing, but I listened to do the teacher and followed the directions, because that was Algebra. Consequently, this is how I taught my 7th grade students as well, because that’s how I learned, until…. I was part of a study group and discovered “Hands On Equation”. It’s a manipulative set you can purchase online (I don’t work for this company), to help student understand balancing equations. This tool essentially helps students grasp the concept that an equal sign means that the two sides of the equal signs are balanced, and it helps students solve for one-step, two-step equations.

The student kit comes with blue and white pawns that represent the unknown variable, green (positive) and red (negative) die to represent quantities.

I start my lesson by modeling one pawn on one side of the balance, and a number 8 (or any number) on the other side of the balance. I ask my students, “Can you figure out what the unknown quantity of the pawn is?” They can easily answer that it is 8, since number 8 is equal to the pawn, the pawn must be 8. After my students understand this concept, then I move on to placing 3 pawns and 24 on each side of the balance. My students can figure out 24 / 3 = 8, so each pawn must be 8.

After my students understand the concept of hands on equation, I let my students explore using word problems. For example, a typical Algebra math problem: Three times a number, increased by 1, is 25. Find the number. My students would place 3 pawns for 3 times an unknown number, along with a number 1 on one side of the balance, and then 25 on the other side of the balance.