The first unit we do in 8th grade is on equations. I start by reviewing order of operations, evaluating expressions, and simplifying expressions. Then we get into solving more basic equations. Here is a semi-brief overview of the first part of this unit.

##### Order of Operations

We start off with order of operations. I use the following Notice/Wonder to lead into our discussion/review of order of operations.

We also review absolute value as well as square roots as part of our order of operations practice. These are great problems for vertical nonpermanent surfaces (#VNPS)

This Desmos activity from Cathy Yenca is also a great review of squares and square roots.

After a couple days of absolute value problems and square root problems, students work on a worksheet similar to the one below. You can download it here. I’ve thought about changing up this worksheet since it doesn’t include square roots or absolute value, but it is a good challenge for students, since students are only allowed to use the numbers 0 through 9 once, and I like that about it.

Students also see their first Find the Flub warm-up in this unit.

##### Evaluate Expressions

Then we spend a little bit of time on evaluating expressions. I use the worksheet below as practice for students. I blogged about this type of worksheet here. You can find the link to download it in that post.

##### Simplifying Expressions

Both years I’ve taught this, I forget that students aren’t as comfortable simplifying expressions as I expect them to be. I start by having students simplify expressions that don’t involve the distributive property, and then I add that in a day or so later. I found a Desmos activity in the Desmos Bank that I modified and uses on one of the first days on this topic. Here is the link to the activity I modified.

Then we do a couple days of simplifying expressions with the distributive property. Again, I use a “One Incorrect” Worksheet. You can download it in this post.

The Notice/Wonder I used below was GREAT to discussion some common mistakes I was seeing students make when simplifying expressions. For example, I had students who would say that 5x² was 25x. We had a really good discussion about the differences in the expressions below and how that changed things.

##### Solving Equations

Then we get start solving equations. A few years ago, I had a group of students that struggled to plot points on a number line, so when we got to solving equations, I saw that as an opportunity for them to get more practice with that by having them graph the solution to the equation. They also struggled with order of operations/evaluating expressions, so again, I decided to have them practice this by checking their answers to the equations. I’ve never looked back, and now I have students graph and check their answers to nearly every problem they do for me.

If you’re interested in the worksheet I use, you can download it here. Below are a couple of warm-ups we use when we’re talking about solving equations.