Today was simplifying Algebraic Expressions. I started by showing the students FRUIT on the Smartboard and having them group “like fruits”. While very elementary, I was hoping to develop their sense of what a coefficient actually means, and help them to realize the concept of grouping “like terms.” For example, red apples and green apples, while both apples, are not to be grouped together. Still, seeing an x and an x^2 term always gets to them! I tried to explain it even further as thinking of the variable as a ” family last name”. Unless the last name is *exactly* the same, we cannot consider them family! Just like “Smith” and “Smithson”, while both have “Smith” in them, are not the same last name. Some classes really got that and were able to differentiate between a basic X variable, and then x variables with exponents. Others still seemed to be a bit confused, so I think I will reiterate the concept tomorrow. Grouping basic expressions, such as 7d + 3d, were easy for most of the students. It was when more than 2 unlike terms were within one expression where I started to see some trouble. Short lesson, some practice, and then the bell rings! I need to get used to these quick classes. Last year I taught a block period math class, and it was definitely easier to get more done.

## About Gretchen Simmerson

Middle School math teacher living in Austin, Texas.