Modeling Equivalent Expressions

Author: Dr. Shelbi Cole

  • Description
  • Files

What we like about this lesson


  • Addresses standards 6.EE.A.2 and 6.EE.A.4
  • Allows students to develop an understanding of the meaning of equivalent expressions
  • Promotes coherence by highlighting prior knowledge and pointing to the mathematics that will be built from these ideas
  • Requires students' use of precise course-appropriate mathematical language (MP.6)
  • Relates concrete quantities and abstract symbols (MP.2)
  • Encourages students to make use of structure when creating expressions from the models (MP.7

In the classroom: 

  • Uses multiple concrete representations and visual models to make the mathematics explicit
  • Gives formal and informal opportunities for teachers to check for understanding  
  • Provides opportunities for students to discuss mathematical concepts; includes guiding questions for teachers to use to facilitate discussion.

  • Making the Shifts

    How does this lesson exemplify the instructional Shifts required by CCSSM?

    Focus Belongs to the major work of sixth grade
    Coherence Builds on grade 5 work with numerical expressions.

    Conceptual Understanding: primary in this lesson

    Procedural Skill and Fluency: secondary  in this lesson

    Application: not addressed in this lesson

  • Additional Thoughts

    It is important to note that this lesson would fit best early in the Expressions and Equations unit of sixth grade. It is not intended for students to meet the full expectations of the grade-level standards addressed through only this selected lesson. Within the individual lesson, the selection of representations is purposeful and connects to the student’s familiarity with arrays. This lesson builds on grade 5 work of interpreting numerical expressions to describe calculations and transitions students to grade 6 work of viewing expressions as objects.

    The format of this lesson has some interesting aspects to highlight. This engaging and active lesson is meant to spark conversation between teacher and students as well as students with one another. The teacher checks for understanding of algebraic notation and interpretation of visual models. This ensures that the students’ understanding of notation, properties of operations, and variables is sufficient to move forward.

    For more insight on the grade-level concepts addressed in this lesson, read pages 4 - 7 of the progression document, Grades 6-8, Expressions and Equations.

Supplemental Resources