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I switched my DD to CLE math for 7th grade.  Her computation is very good--multiplication facts and long division are solid, as is her ability to perform operations with fractions and decimals.  The thing she is really struggling with is just a very basic understanding of variables, combining like terms, and simplifying expressions.  Is there a video that I can use to make this click for her?  We watched some Kahn Academy but it is still not clicking.  Here are examples of what she is struggling with:

2x + 5 + x - 3

7x + 28 = 84

I have said things like, the end goal is to get the variable by itself so that you know what it equals.  When you do one thing to one side, do the same thing to the other side.  You need to "combine like terms" which means group together variables and numbers in groups that are the same. These concepts are SO abstract to her.  I have used Number Rock videos in the past that made everything click, but they don't have anything related to algebra.  Is there something out there that I can show her or some way of explaining this that I am missing, or does she just need to keep practicing and it will all eventually click?

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Do you have a smartphone/tablet?

We used two resources that are phenomenal in teaching this:
-Hands On Equations.  It's exactly what it sounds like, a hands on way (with colored pieces to denote positive and negative variables) to show the relationship and get them used to combining terms/simplifying.  It's worth it to buy the set (\$35) and let her go through it as many times as needed.
If you think she just needs a less intensive way, then there is the app Dragonbox.  I bought all three (5+, 12+, and Geometry/Elements). They sell them as a set, which I totally should have done to begin with.  The first is the simplest and really won't let her get far without combining monsters and won't let her move on until she does the same thing to each side.  It slowly morphs to using real numbers and variables and can take her up through beginning algebra if she uses the 12+ app after.

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I 2nd Hands on Equations! Youtube has the videos of people teaching it that you can watch for the learning of it (there are 22 lessons, so you can search by "Hands On Equations Lesson 1" etc. if the general search doesn't get you anywhere).

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Ok, dragon box looks awesome but it’s a little pricey and I think I’d have to buy it separately for both kids’ laptops (windows.)

Hands on equations has an app that’s really cheap—has anyone used that?

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I'm following the post.. but can I just say, I don't think this is pre-pre-algebra is it? Wouldn't it be pre-algebra or even simple algebra? Share on other sites

I wouldn't call that pre-pre-alg. It is really just basic math. Hands On Equations might help, but really the issue is probably that she missed learning the how to do it with simple problems in earlier grades. I don't know anything about CLE, but Horizons math has kids solving problems with variables from the beginning.

Back up and use problems that she obviously knows the answer to

___+3= 5  She knows that the blank is 2.  Then explain n and the blank are the same thing, n + 3= 5.  If the problem was too hard to just know the answer, it is easy to solve. If you do something to 1 side of the equation, you have to do it to both. So if you take the same equation and recognize that the subtraction fact 2=5-3 then n+3=5 is the same thing as going through the process of n+ 3-3= 5-3 (subtracting 3 from both sides) is n+0=2 or n=2.

i would give her basic addition and subtraction problems to work through until she gains confidence.

Does she understand mathematical principles like addition is cummutative? In the first problem, 2x﻿ ﻿+ 5 + x﻿ - ﻿3﻿﻿, does she understand that 2x +x+5-3 is the same thing?  Replace the variables with constants and demonstrate. 6+5+3-3 is the same thing as 6+3+5-3.  Then show that 6=3+3, or 6= 2(3) , 9=3+3+3 or 3 + 2(3),  or 3(3) If you replace the numbers with n (starting off with "n for number" for variables might help things click). 6=1n + 1n or 6= 2n, 9=1n+1n+1n or 9=3n. Explain we don't need to write 1n bc any number times 1just equals itself.

In terms of Hands On Equations, my 3rd grader is solving problems like you posted with HOE. The app has simple problems like you posted, but the Verbal Book has excellent word problems which is the best part of the program. I would pay for the verbal book and the manipulatives and skip the app. The verbal book will expose her to what she is doing and why and apply the concepts to simple problems like "Today, Jack is 2 times the age of Sue. If 2 yrs ago Jack was 10, how old is Sue now." to progressively more complex problems.

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7 hours ago, Rachel428 said:

I'm following the post.. but can I just say, I don't think this is pre-pre-algebra is it? Wouldn't it be pre-algebra or even simple algebra?

3 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I wouldn't call that pre-pre-alg. It is really just basic math.

I guess I figured it was pre-pre-algebra because she should have been exposed to it all along but wasn't.  Her fifth grade year was a total wash because she was extremely ill.  Up to that point we had been using Singapore.  I spent the summer after 5th grade catching her up on fractions and decimals.  For sixth grade, last year, I put her in Math Lessons for a Living Education which was an excellent review of all fraction and decimal work, percents, long division, multi-digit multiplication.  But only at the very end of the book did it mention variables and integers.

3 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

___+3= 5  She knows that the blank is 2.  Then explain n and the blank are the same thing, n + 3= 5.  If the problem was too hard to just know the answer, it is easy to solve. If you do something to 1 side of the equation, you have to do it to both. So if you take the same equation and recognize that the subtraction fact 2=5-3 then n+3=5 is the same thing as going through the process of n+ 3-3= 5-3 (subtracting 3 from both sides) is n+0=2 or n=2.

Yeah this is the thing.  She will easily solve those problems but when I tell her the you have to do the same thing to both sides and really that is what you are already doing, she says it doesn't make any sense.  Same thing with combining like terms.  It is the abstract nature of this that she gets stuck with.

I bought the entire Dragonbox set. If that doesn't work, I will look into HOE.

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51 minutes ago, kristin0713 said:

Yeah this is the thing.  She will easily solve those problems but when I tell her the you have to do the same thing to both sides and really that is what you are already doing, she says it doesn't make any sense.  Same thing with combining like terms.  It is the abstract nature of this that she gets stuck with.

Is she writing down the steps? It really isn't abstract.  If she understands that equal means balanced, then doing simple things with problems she knows should help her see. 2+3=5, 2+3+4=5+4, 2+3+4-6=5+4-6

But it sounds like it is s frustration problem at this pt, so hopefully DB will help.

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We used boxes and circles modified from a lesson in Jousting Armadillos to learn simplifying and combining like terms.  For your example 2x + 5 + x - 3, there would be two boxes then 5 open circles then a box then 3 dark (filled in) circles.  Boxes are the variable whatever it is and the circles are always ones.  How many total boxes do you have?  3. So that is 3x or 3 boxes.  Sometimes, I filled in the box with the variable we were using.  The open circles were positive numbers and the dark circles were negative numbers.  If you write out the open circles on one line and the dark circles on the next line, they cancel themselves out (+1 and -1).  We would draw a vertical line through them to show they were gone.  What is left is two open circles.  So in the end you have 3 boxes and 2 open circles = 3x + 2.  We also changed everything to addition for a while 2x + 5 + x + (-3).  We also used this method on a pan balance scale drawing to move boxes and circles back and forth over the equal sign.  Isolating the variable so it became x = 2/3 was a whole separate lesson where we wrote out the steps individually in math and then explained it in English next to each step for each type of problem.  That process provided a nice reference sheet and really helped solidify it.

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