Top Tips to Teach Algebraic Expressions - Make Sense of Math

Top Tips to Teach Algebraic Expressions

Tips to Teach Algebraic Expressions

Top Tips to Teach Algebraic Expressions

1. Use Color

Expressions have terms, operations, coefficients, constants, and variables. Using color to distinguish the difference is beneficial to your students.

There are different ways to use color. Below is an example of like terms in a differnet color.  This helps students to make sense of like terms.

2. Circle the Terms

A common mistake when simplifying expressions is students ignoring the sign of the term. 

Have students circle the terms, including the sign in front of the term.  This helps them to correctly add or subtract the term.

3. Use Manipulatives

Manipulatives help students visually understand math and conceptualize an abstract concept. 

I personally love using algebra tiles to teach a variety of algebra concepts.  If you are unsure of how to effecitvely use algebra tiles, then you might want to check out Algebra Tiles Academy.

4. First Conceptual. Second Fluency.

Always teach math conceptually first. Repeat after me: always teach conceptually first.

This means, help your students to understand the why behind the math before teaching them tips, tricks and algorithms.  

Manipulatives, real-world problems and pattern finding are all great ways to teach conceptually. 

After teaching conceptually, guide your students to discover the algorithm or process so they can then become fluent.


Check out this product Expressions and Algebra Tiles.  This is a great resource to use when you are transitioning between conceptually and fluency.  

NOTE: If your students are not familiar with algebra tiles, no worries. Using the algebra tiles cards is optional. This is still a fun activity to practice simplifying expressions.

Engage your students with this fun activity. Check it out HERE.

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