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Plan College of Saint Benedict/Saint Johns University

Title of Lesson: Exciting Expressions
NCTM Standard: Algebra
Grade Level: 5
Process Standard(s): Problem solving, connections, communication

Minnesota Academic Standards: Objectives: Represent real-world situations using Students will be able to
equations and inequalities involving variables. 1. Write expressions with one variable
Create real-world situations corresponding to that represent real-world word
equations and inequalities. situations provided
2. Evaluate expressions when variable Evaluate expressions and solve value is known in the context of a word
equations involving variables when values for problem
the variables are given.

1. This lesson is important for a fifth grader because it allows students to see how variables
in math relate to real-world situations that happen all around us, every day. They will be
able to see how the problem solving and reasoning they use to evaluate expressions can
also apply to situations they encounter in their lives as middle schoolers.
2. This lesson relates to prior knowledge because students have already been introduced
to variables, expressions, and equations. They have practiced solving basic expressions
with zero or one variable, but they have not yet written their own expressions from
word problems.
3. This lesson relates to future learning because students will learn more complex
processes and properties that can be represented through mathematical language in
equations and expressions. They will also learn how to use simple expressions as rules
to create input/output tables with positive integers which they will then be able to
graph on a coordinate system.

Materials/Preparation Needed:
10-sided dice (1/partner pair)
Amazing Expression Race game cards (1 game set/partner pair)
Exit Slips (1/student)
Joke word clues (1 pack/partner pair)
Word Problems for clue hunt (1 pack/partner pair)
Clue hunt worksheets (1/student)

List and define:
1. discipline specific language:
equation-numbers connected by operations and an equals sign
expression-numbers connected by operations without an equals sign
variable-the unknown in the math problem
add-find the total of two or more numbers together
subtract-take one number away from another
value-number represented by a variable
double-multiply a number by two
operation-math methods used to show the relationship between two or more values (like
addition, subtraction, multiplication, division)
3. academic language:
Write-to make an expression
Evaluate-find the answer of the expression when a value is given for the variable
Represent-show in another way
Create-make up your own word problem
Calculate-figure out the value of a variable in an equation
Identify-to be able to tell what the unknown or variable is in a word problem
Define-tell what something means
Solve-figure out the answer
Translated-go from words to numbers/numbers to words
Formulate-put the clues together to find an answer

Anticipatory Set: (5 minutes)
The Amazing Expression Race
Students will have the opportunity to practice evaluating expressions when the values of the
variables are given in this partner game. Students will each be given a set of 4 cards with
expressions. A pile of cards for both partners will be in the middle. These cards have values for
n and instructions to add/subtract a certain number. Partners take turns drawing a card and
applying the card to their expression. The first partner to get to 25 wins. (see attachment for
more game details)

This activity will be used to refresh students prior knowledge on evaluating expressions before
a new skill of creating expressions and equations based on real-world situations is introduced.
After the game, students will reconvene and discuss questions such as:
1. What is a variable? Why do we use variables?
2. Can you think of any places where you or your family uses variables to solve problems?
3. Can anyone remind us what an expression is? How is it different from an equation?

Procedure: (40 minutes)
Guided Practice-Writing Expressions from Word Problems (10 minutes)
Write the steps double five and then add 50 on the board.
Students will be prompted to write an expression for the steps above, either (5 x 2) + 50
or 5+5+50.
Ask students, what key words told you what operations you needed to use in your
expression? (double, add)
Then introduce a word problem with a variable in it. Miss B. wants to buy Sharpie pens.
If each pen costs $2, how much would it cost for her to buy 2 pens? 4? Miss B. wants to
buy one of every color. We dont know how many different colors will be at the store.
How could we represent this with an expression? Ask students how we can represent
unknowns. (Using variables)

Transition: Now we are going to play a game where you will get to work with a partner to write
expressions with a variable.

Word Problem Clue Hunt (20 minutes)
Students will be presented with a math joke such as What kind of mistakes do ghosts
make in math? (Ghosts make boo boos) Then they will have to correctly write
expressions in order to unlock each word that will give them the answer to the joke.
Students will work with a partner to complete a set of 4 word problems. Students will
translate word problems into expressions that incorporate one unknown or variable.
Once the group agrees on the answer, a 10-sided dice will be rolled to identify a value
for the variable in the context of the problem. They will then evaluate the expression
using that number, recording the variable, what the variable represents, and the answer
to the expression on the provided worksheet.
After both of these steps have been completed, a member of the group will bring it up
to the teacher to be checked. If they are correct, the teacher will give the students a
portion of a sentence which will reveal the answer to a math joke presented at the
beginning of class. Then the teacher will give them the next word problem. After all 4
word problems have been translated into expressions and evaluated correctly when the
variable is given a value, they will have the necessary clues to formulate the answer to
the joke.
Have the whole class reconvene, go over any expressions that were commonly missed
(which you could assess as students come to you to get clues), and share the answer to
the joke.

Transition: Now that we have practiced writing expressions from given word problems, we are
going to do an exciting project where you get to make up your own real-world situations to
describe an expression.

Introduction to Express Yourself Project (10 minutes)
Now that students have written equations from given word problems, they are now
going to have the opportunity to create their own situations based off an expression.
Explain project: Students will be able to create a real-world situation by themselves or
with up to two other partners. Students will write an expression that includes one
variable and at least 2 operations. After writing out the situation, they will have the
opportunity to create a video either of themselves (working in groups) or using
animation (working alone) to represent the story used to model the expression. During
each scene, students must make it clear which part of the equation they are showing.
Example expressions will be given that students can work from if they are struggling to
create both parts, or they can create their own.
Have students brainstorm by giving them an example expression and allowing them to
come up with an idea of a word problem they could use to describe the problem. Allow
students to get together with partners that they want to work with to share their
brainstormed ideas before making up a plan for their expression and corresponding
**This assignment would be assessed at a later date and aligns with standard

Assessment of Learning:

Clue Hunt Worksheet
I would use this as a formative assessment for overall class understanding of writing and
evaluating expressions. However, I would not individually assess student proficiency or use a
rubric for this assessment tool.

Exit Slip
I would use this to check students level of proficiency with writing and evaluating expressions
on an independent basis
1 (Beginning) 2 (Developing) 3 (Proficient) 4 (Exceeds)
Define what variable Identify the variable Evaluate expressions Calculate the value of
means in math in the context of a when variable value a variable in an
given word problem is known in the equation
context of a word

1 (Beginning) 2 (Developing) 3 (Proficient) 4 (Exceeds)
Write expressions Write expressions Write expressions Create a real-world
from short phrase without variables with one variable situation to describe
incorporating that represent real- that represent real- a given expression
numbers and world situations world word
operations described provided situations provided

in words

Closure: (10 minutes)
Exit Slip
I would use an exit slip because the clue hunt was done in pairs, and I would want to check their
understanding of writing and evaluating expressions on an individual level as well.
It would include the following questions:
1. What is a variable?
2. Write an expression to represent the following words using mathematical language:
a. 6 more than 2 times 4
b. Luke picked 5 apples at the orchard and his dad bought 2 bags with 10 apples in
each of them. Write the expression that shows how many apples Lukes family
have together.
3. Ali started with 6 pieces of candy in her jar. Then she went trick-or-treating. Every house
gave her two pieces of candy, and she visited lots houses in the neighborhood. How
many pieces of candy does Ali have now?
a. Write an expression to represent the situation mathematically.
b. What is the variable in this situation?
c. If we substitute the number 9 for the variable, what would our answer be if we
evaluated the expression?
4. Create your own situation to describe the following expression: 4n+2
5. Challenge: Can you figure out how what number the variable represents in this
equation? n-3=7


1. How will you support students who struggle academically?
Students will have the opportunity to work with partners in the anticipatory set, clue hunt, and
express yourself project. Additionally, guided practice at the beginning of the lesson helped
review prior knowledge and provided a model of teacher thinking when translating a word
problem into mathematical language. If necessary, difficulty of word problems in the clue hunt
could be modified and students would be assisted in finding an expression to use for the
express yourself project.
2. How challenge advanced students?
Students have the opportunity to apply their knowledge of variables to equations which we
have not yet discussed. Allowing students to choose an expression for the express yourself
project will encourage them to select a more complex option rather than just assigning the
same one to the whole class.
3. How will you provide for different learning styles?
Kinesthetic learners will benefit from the opportunity to move around during the clue hunt and
to act out math with their bodies in the express yourself project. Linguistic learners would
benefit from the analysis of word problems and the clue hunt. Interpersonal leaners would
benefit from partner work while intrapersonal learners would have the option to complete the
express yourself project individually using animation rather that acting.
4. What is one accommodation/modification for a SPED learner?
I could easily adjust the word problems in the clue hunt activity so no variables are included in
the situations.
5. What is one accommodation/modification for an EL learner?
Students will have the opportunity to use pictures and actions to describe an expression which
will help make the math language more concrete and observable.

The Amazing Equation Race
Games are a great way to ease your fifth graders fear
of new math concepts. Kids are always more willing to
attempt a new skill when its presented in a fun, non-
threatening way! The Amaz ing Equation Race is an
interactive, fast-paced game that will make your child feel
more comfortable with simple equations. Although the
terms variable" and equation are unfamiliar now, a few
rounds will turn them into household names.

What You Need:

Scrap paper
White paper
Black markers
Blue and red markers (optional)

What You Do:

1. Cut 3 sheets of paper into 12 strips. On each set

of stips, write the following equations in black





Cut 4 sheets of paper into 30 playing cards. On 7 of the cards, write the following:







ADD 10

On each of the remaining playing cards, write a value for n (the variable), up to 10.

For example:



2. When you are ready to begin the game, each player should get scrap paper, a pencil and 4 equation strips.
Shuffle the playing cards and put them face down on the table.

3. Player 1 begins by picking the top card in the deck. If it is a variable, player 1 fills in the value for n on his first
equation strip (solve on scrap paper).

For example:

equation strip: n + 2

player picks n = 5


Player 1 now has 7 points

If a player pulls an ADD or SUBTRACT card, he adds or subtracts the amount from his points.

The winner is the first player to reach 25 points.

Note: If your fifth graders score drops below z ero, you may have to help her add and subtract negative numbers.

Extension: Save the game for the future when your child learns to solve equations with negative numbers. Just
put a negative sign in front of some of the numbers on the playing cards.

Ghosts Make

Boo Boos

Problem #1 Problem #2
Will has 6 Lego sets. He peeked and saw some new Miss B. buys two packs of markers with 10 markers
Lego sets in his parents closet for his birthday, but
in each pack at the beginning of the school year. By
he didnt have time to count how many. How many the end of the year some of the markers have dried
Lego sets does Will have now? out. How many markers does Miss. B have left at the
end of the year?

Problem #3 Problem #4
Ryan makes 2 pans of 12 cupcakes. When Sarah was keeping track of the points she scored in a
accidentally dropped some on the floor while he was basketball game. During the first half, she scored 4
frosting them and his dog Pepper ate them. How points. In the second half, she scored 1 3-point shot
many cupcakes does Ryan have left? and but she lost track of how many two-point shots
she made. How many points did Sarah make during
the game?

Expressions Clue Hunt
Collect all of the clues by writing expressions and evaluating them for each of your word
problem to answer: What kind of mistakes do ghosts make? ___________________________
Word Problem #1
What is the variable (unknown) in the situation?

Write the expression:

Variable value (number on die):

Evaluate the expression:

Word Problem #2
What is the variable (unknown) in the situation?

Write the expression:

Variable value (number on die):

Evaluate the expression:

Word Problem #3
What is the variable (unknown) in the situation?

Write the expression:

Variable value (number on die):

Evaluate the expression:

Word Problem #4
What is the variable (unknown) in the situation?

Write the expression:

Variable value (number on die):

Evaluate the expression: