Equations and Inequalities with No Solution or Infinite Solutions

I was looking for something a little bit different than what I had done in the past to introduce equations that have no solution or infinite solutions.  I came across this post from Sarah who blogs at Everybody is a Genius, and it was exactly what I was looking for.  I also liked this because when I had these students as 6th graders, I used scales to introduce them to solving equations, so this wasn’t a new idea for them.

I gave this sheet to students and told them to fill in the boxes to keep the scales balanced, and that for each scale, the number in the box must be the same.  Students have done a few different Open Middle problems this year, so some students struggled with the idea that they could no reuse numbers since they are used to not being able to reuse them for those problems, but they eventually understood what to do.

Equation Scales

As I was walking around, exactly what I hoped would happen, happened.  Students got two number 3 and I heard, “What?  This doesn’t make sense.”  “This is impossible.”

As we went over what students came up with, we discussed how in #1 and #4, we could pick any number we wanted, in #2 and #5 only one number works, and in #3, and #6 no numbers work.  Then we took some notes on this.  In the notes sheet I handed out to students, I included a picture of the scale and we wrote out the equation and showed what was happening to the scale as we did the algebra.

I liked that introducing this topic this way to students gave students a visual to help them understand these types of equations.


The next day we did some practice at the whiteboards.  I always include some problems that have one solution (especially ones where x = 0) because some students want to start saying every single equation either has no solution or infinite solutions, even though I stress that this only happens when the variables are eliminated.

Sarah Carter has created a nice Open Middle style problem to go with this topic.  Here students can use the numbers -4 to 4.

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Last week we worked on solving inequalities with infinite solutions and no solution.  I really liked what I did last year for this, so I did something similar this year.  I started the day by having students solve an equation that had no solution.  Then, I asked students which inequalities would make that true and which would make it false.

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We briefly discussed which would make it true and which would make it false, and that was pretty much the only instruction I gave students that day.  They had little to no trouble transferring the idea of equations with no solutions or infinite solutions to inequalities.

I shared at the end of this post a Desmos card sort I use as well as another Open Middle style problem on this topic.

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Overall, I’m really happy with how students are doing with these types of problems.  I think that introducing this idea using the scales really helped my students to see what was going on.

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8th Grade Unit 2: Inequalities (Part 3 -absolute value special cases and word problems)

The last part of our unit on inequalities covers absolute value special cases and word problems.  You can read about part 1 here and part 2 here.


Absolute Value Inequality Special Cases

To introduce solving absolute value inequalities that have no solution or all real numbers as the answer, I tried a couple different things this year.  In a couple classes I put this up on the board and we talked about each of them, which is what I had done in the past.

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In another class I put the following up on the board and asked how we could write an inequality that would never be true.

|x|______________

Then I asked how we could write an inequality that would never be true.  Once students gave me answers for that and understood, we talked about if it mattered what was inside  the absolute value bars.  Both ways worked fine, but I almost think I liked think I liked this new way better.  I liked that students were coming up with the inequalities.

The next day I started with the following warm-up problem.  I always like to include absolute value inequalities that don’t have all real numbers or no solution as the answer so that students don’t forget what they already knew about those types of problems.

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Here is the link to download a worksheet with these types of problems.

I also created an Open Middle type problem for these types of inequalities.  You can download it here.

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Absolute Value Inequality Word Problems

One of the things that my students need to know is how to solve word problems involving absolute value inequalities.  In the past, I just jumped into these types of problems, but this year I took a day to go over setting up the absolute value inequalities given a graph.  The day before this I had each student solve an absolute value inequality to use as this introduction.  You can download the problems I used here.

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I took several of these and had students find the midpoint of each graph and the distance from the midpoint.  Then students looked for a pattern.Screen Shot 2017-12-08 at 7.10.45 PM.png

Then I had students practice writing absolute value inequalities when given a graph and practice finding the midpoint of the graph and distance from the midpoint when given an absolute value inequality.

The next day when we got to solving word problems went so much better than it did last year having spent a day on this ahead of time.

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You can download the test review here.

6th Grade Unit 2: Intro to Algebra (Part 4 -Inequalities)

The last part of our Introduction to Algebra unit in 6th grade is inequalities.  I also wrote about part 1, part 2, and part 3.

I don’t spend a ton of time with this.  I start with a few Desmos activities.  Polygraph is the first thing we do, and then I come back to it a day or so later after students have done more with inequalities.  Then we review the inequality symbols before students work on this Desmos activity.  It is a basic introduction to graphing, and it is usually the first time that my students see the greater than or equal to symbols and less than or equal to symbols.

The next day to review we start with this Which One Doesn’t Belong.

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Then we work a bit on graphing inequalities when given a situation.  This Desmos activity is one of the first things we do to practice this.

The last way we review is Mathketball.  My students LOVE this game.  They put their desks in a circle around the room.  I put a garbage can in the middle of the room.  I put a problem up on the board, and if students get it correct they get to try to shoot their paper in the basket.  Students would play this for every concept if I let them, but I try to save this for problems that I anticipate all students completing in the same amount of time compared to problems that have multiple steps to get the answer.

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I want to find more pictures like these that students can write inequalities for.

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The day before the test a student asked how many problems were going to be on the quiz.  I said, “8 problems tops.”  Another student said, “You should make us write an inequality for that.”  I just love these kiddos so much.

8th Grade Unit 2: Inequalities (Part 2 -Compound Inequalities and Absolute Value Inequalities)

You can read about the first part of our unit on inequalities here.  In the next part of the unit we do some word problems, compound inequalities, and absolute value inequalities.


Word Problems

I know the word problems I give students aren’t very “real world” and that this is an area I need to work on -finding/creating better word problems for students and doing a better job of teaching them as well as incorporating them into class.  I don’t have anything fancy I do for these other than a couple examples together as a class and then partner practice.

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Compound Inequalities

I use Notice/Wonder to start our conversation on compound inequalities.  Then we do this Desmos activity.  I also like this Polygraph activity for compound inequalities.

This year I also realized I could make a connection between “compound inequalities” and “compound words” and “compound sentences” that students are familiar with already from their English classes.  Why did it take me so long to do this?

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The following day I use this Which One Doesn’t Belong? for a warm-up and then we go back to the image from the notice/wonder the day before.  I put numbers on the graphs and students write inequalities for each.

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I used one of Sarah Carter’s awesome questions stacks for practice on solving these types of inequalities.  You can download the file she shared here.

One of my classes got to Point Collector.  This was my first time using this activity with students.  It’s SO fun!

One of my students came up with this for the last challenge.  He didn’t quite follow the directions exactly, but I love that he wanted to get the maximum number of points.  I overheard him telling another student about it later on during the class period when they were working on something else.  His friend goes, “Oh, so you cheated the system?” 😉

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Absolute Value Inequalities

I tried a couple different ways of introducing absolute value inequalities this year.  In a couple classes I started with Notice/Wonder.  Then in another class I started with an absolute value equation such as 3|x – 1| + 4 = 19 and had students solve that.  Then I changed it to an inequality and asked students what they thought would be the same/different about solving the problem.  Both ways of introducing the topic were good for different reasons.  I think for next year I may try to find a good combination of both.

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We did some vertical non-permanent surface practice with solving absolute value inequalities at the whiteboards around my room.

I also used this Open Middle type problem I made.  You can download the file here.

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Here is the link to download the test review.

8th Grade Unit 2: Inequalities (Part 1)

After solving many different types of equations in 8th grade, inequalities are up next.  We start by reviewing graphing inequalities before getting into solving them.  Then we also work on inequalities that have all real numbers and no solution as answers.


Review of Graphing

Although students have seen inequalities and graphed them in the past, I’ve found that it is worth my time to spend a day or so giving students a quick refresher on this.  There are several great Desmos activities for this.  Here are a few that I’ve used and like.

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Solving

In the past I had an activity I used to get students to discover when the inequality symbol needs to be switched when solving inequalities.  It was sort of lengthy and cumbersome, but I didn’t know how to improve it more than I already had.  Then I saw Sarah Tweet the picture below.  It was EXACTLY what I was looking for!  Thanks Sarah!  Here is the link to download Sarah’s file.

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Then for practice students do a Tarsia puzzle.  I created the puzzle a while ago and don’t know where the file is that I can share.  If you’re unfamiliar with Tarsia puzzles, you can learn more about them here.

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I also have a question stack that I use for these types of problems.  You can read about Sarah Carter’s question stacks here.

 

 

 


All Real Numbers/No Solution

To introduce inequalities that have No Solution or All Real Numbers as the solution, I went back to what students already knew about equations like these.  I had students solve a problem similar to the one below and then asked them what inequality symbol we could replace the equal sign with that would make the inequality have no solution and the same for all real numbers.

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Then for practice, I had students work on this Desmos activity.

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I also tried creating an Open Middle problem for these types of problems after seeing a similar one Sarah created for equations.  I had one of my co-workers take a look at a different Open Middle problem I made, and he had a great idea from when he has used Open Middle problems in the past.  He suggested to start by letting students use whatever numbers they want, and then after they come up with a solution to restrict them to only using certain numbers.  I thought this was a great idea, so that’s what I did.  I started by telling students they could use any integers they wanted as long as they didn’t repeat any of the 12 numbers.  When a student came up with a solution, I said they could only use the integers -6 to 6.

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You can download the files for the Open Middle puzzle here.

Open Middle Inequality Problems

I started using Open Middle problems a bit more last year and want to continue using them more in my classes.  A while back I saw something Sarah shared about a problem she created.  I really liked this task, but I had just finished this concept when I saw her Tweet.

I remembered this problem recently when I was looking for things for my inequality unit.  I modified Sarah’s original problem slightly to create 3 different Open Middle tasks for inequalities.  The first one I made is actually the last one I will end up using in this unit, but I was too eager to try it out with students, so I ended up making two problems to use sooner.


This is the first one (and only one I have tried with students so far).

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When I shared the first one with a colleague to get his feedback on it, he had a great idea from when he has used Open Middle problems in the past.  He suggested to start by letting students use whatever numbers they want, and then after they come up with a solution to restrict them to only using certain numbers.  I thought this was a great idea.  I started by telling students they could use any integers they wanted as long as they didn’t repeat any of the 12 numbers (I did say they could use 2 and 12 if they wanted).  When a student came up with a solution, then I gave them the added challenge of only using integers from -6 to 6.  I really liked how this played out with students.


This is the second problem I plan to use with students, but it’s the one I played around with the most when I was creating it.  Even though in the directions I have that students can only use the numbers 1-12, when I use this with students, I will probably do what I did with the other problem and say that students can use any integer as long as they don’t repeat any numbers.

I plan on discussing absolute value inequalities that have no solution or all real numbers as the answer after students work on this task.  However, I know those ideas may come up as students work on this.  I’ve thought about how the conversation will go if it comes up while students are trying to solve this problem, and I can’t quite picture what will happen.

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Here’s the last one I plan on using with students.  Again, my plan is to start by letting them use any integers they want as long as there aren’t any repeats, and then restrict them to using integers between -6 and 6.

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If you try any of these with your students, I would love to hear how it goes!

Here’s the link to download the Open Middle tasks I made.