Anna Smoak Short Range Lesson Plan
Title of Lesson: Combining Like Terms
Subject: Algebra I
Grade level: 9th
Teacher: Ms. Burgess
Students will be able to communicate verbally and in writing the definition of like terms
Students will be able to identify like terms in polynomial expressions
Students will be able to mathematically combine like terms in polynomial expressions
Students will be able to generate examples and non-examples of like terms
Students will be able to apply knowledge of like terms to practical situations
SCSDE Curriculum Standard(s) Addressed:
EA-2.7 Carry out a procedure (including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division by
a monomial) to simplify polynomial expressions.
NCTM National Curriculum Standard(s) Addressed:
Algebra: Represent and analyze mathematical situations and structures using algebraic symbols
Use symbolic algebra to represent and explain mathematical relationships
Organize and consolidate their mathematical thinking through communication
Communicate their mathematical thinking coherently and clearly to peers, teachers, and
Students must be able to recognize as well as add and subtract monomials
Students must be able to distribute a constant through a polynomial
Students must be able to add, subtract, and multiply real numbers
Students must be able to translate a word problem into a mathematical expression
Smartboard and whiteboard will be used
Powerpoint or Smart presentation will be minimized and ready for immediate use
Students must have notebooks and pencils
Introductory Activity (5 minutes):
o Student will use their prior knowledge of similarity to group apples and oranges
into similar groups.
o Student will be asked to explain their procedure for choosing which items were
similar to the class.
o Students will be prompted to explain their strategies for sorting the fruit into two
o Students will then generate ideas of how to simplify their groups.
o As a class we will review the natural steps we took to combine our like terms
collect like terms
Main Activity (20 minutes):
o Similar to the introductory activity, students will group similar algebra tiles
(which contain only x values and constant terms). After several minutes to
consider the problem, I will ask for student solution strategies, their reasoning,
procedure, and any possible alternatives. It will be noted that our procedure for
combining like terms is the same in this algebra example as it was in our fruit
o Students will then be asked to explain why they had to stop the procedure when
all of their variables were together and all of their constants were together.
o Students will work in pairs to discuss if two different variables can be added
together and then be asked to explain their reasoning to the class.
o Another algebra tiles activity which contains x2, x, and constant terms will be
presented. Students will explain if their procedure from the previous two
examples will still work with the introduction of x2 and negative values. Students
will be asked to explain why we are not able to add our x2 values to our x values.
o Students will then be asked to explain the role of the 5 in the term 5x, the role of
the x in 5x, and the role of -5 in -5x. This leads into our discussion of
o Students will work problems in pairs to complete a chart where they must decide
if two terms are like or not like and explain why. I will walk around the room to
monitor their conversations and work. Each pair will answer one of the problems
to the class as a whole and explain their reasoning. The rest of the class will be
asked to agree or disagree with the pair.
o Students will then be presented with algebraic expressions without algebra tiles
for the first time. I will ask for suggestions for what to do during each step of
simplifying the expression.
o Students will be given a word problem and be asked to write it in algebraic form
and then simplify it by using the method of combining like terms. We will first
read through the problem together and circle the words that tell us what
operations are being performed. We will then write the expression and simplify it
by using a t-chart where we show our work on the left hand side and state our
steps on the right hand side.
Closure (10 minutes):
o The teacher will present students with a formal set of rules for combining like
terms and review the steps necessary to complete any problem using the process
of combining like terms.
o The teacher will present several student responses from the SCLA given to the
class the previous week where students were asked to provide one real-life
example of combining like terms. We will review each of these examples and
identify what makes these good examples and what could make them better
examples. (I decided to do this activity because a common theme between my
lesson plans is a ticket out of the door. My students are not used to this type of
closing activity and I believe that to help them with this new task I must show
them what I value and what I expect in a written mathematical response. Having
them evaluate their own examples and examples of others also gives them an
opportunity to discuss as a class what makes a good example and what can be
done to make an example better.)
o As a ticket out of the door students will be asked to either give one real-life
example of combining like terms or explain the process of combining like terms
to a friend who was absent from class.
Students can correctly answer conceptual questions about the day’s lesson such as why
can we not add two different variables together? Why can we not add a variable and a
constant together? Why must the degree of variables be the same for them to be added?
Students can successfully complete written in class and homework problems which
require students to simplify expressions with both positive and negative signs
Students will complete a “ticket out of the door” activity as explained above to
demonstrate their understanding of the day’s lesson
Students have the opportunity to come in during their AE period or tutoring after school
for extra assistance
The lesson will begin with several concrete examples to help all of the students draw
from prior knowledge of sorting and combining similar objects
Students will work together during the lesson to identify like terms and discuss their
solution strategies amongst themselves and then present them to the class
I will make text font larger for students who have difficulty seeing the board
The beginning of the next lesson will include a review of combining like terms
Students may complete an optional worksheet for more practice
Clemson: I taught this lesson with Solari Garren as our team presentation. During this lecture I
was given the advice to add a slide that allowed students to use algebra tiles to simplify an
expression that contained x2, x, and constant terms. Teaching this lesson to our class helped me
get a sense of the timing of the lesson and the responses I was going to be looking for when
teaching this lesson to my students.
After giving an SCLA to my students (a requirement for READ 498), I realized that students
were not familiar with the term “coefficient,” which is a major vocabulary term in this unit. I
decided to use the method of verbal mediation to help students remember this term because it is a
word they will not only be expected to recognize on their departmentalized tests but also use to
communicate with teachers and peers throughout their mathematical careers. From this SCLA I
also determined that students were not sure of how the process of combining like terms can be
used in the everyday world (only 3 of the students came up with examples). This helped me
decide to include examples of student work from the SCLA in my presentation to help students
gain an understanding of what an acceptable response must include as well as what constitutes an
Wren: I was very pleased with the level of student interaction during my lesson. Students
usually do not talk in this class and are accustomed to simply listening to the lecture and taking
notes. At first students were shy about responding but after going through a few slides they
realized that the lecture has highly dependent on their feedback and ideas. The only part of the
lesson that I would have changed would be to greater emphasize why we cannot add x2 to x.
Students were able to see this during the algebra tiles exercise, but I think that I should have
spent more time emphasizing this point. Students’ ticket out of the door activity was based on
two of the questions I asked them during the SCLA. After reviewing student SCLA responses
during the lesson I was very happy with the activity responses I received from students. During
the SCLA only three students could give real-life situations for combining like terms and no one
answered the question about explaining the process of combining like terms to a friend.
However, their ticket-out-of-the-door responses were excellent. Even the students who
responded well during the SCLA improved their responses during their exit activity. While I did
not tell the class the names of the students whose examples I was showing, the students were
very excited to see samples of their work on the board and told everyone that it was their work. I
feel that all of the students were engaged (this is a class of only 13 students so I was able to give
them more one-on-one attention than I would be able to do for a class of 30). Students expressed
that they enjoyed the lesson than stated that they wished that every math lesson was taught
beginning at such a basic level (starting with apples and oranges “because they make sense” and
moving to algebraic representations).