Lesson plan

Recognize algebraic expressions as representations of unknown and potentially varying values

teaches Common Core State Standards CCSS.Math.Content.6.EE.B.6 http://corestandards.org/Math/Content/6/EE/B/6
teaches Common Core State Standards CCSS.Math.Practice.MP4 http://corestandards.org/Math/Practice/MP4

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Big Ideas: Any algebraic expression can represent a range of numbers, a single number or a group of varying numbers. Variables are tools for expressing mathematical ideas clearly and concisely. Variables have many different meanings, depending on context and purpose. This lesson builds on students’ work with variables, previously seen with area and volume formulas. This task uses images of rectangles built from square units. Students are presented with four rectangles, create unique shapes from two of them, and then find the perimeter and area of those shapes. Given different sized starting pieces, students are set up to discover that while the meaning of the variable is the same for everyone, the value of that variable can vary. The mathematical concepts in this lesson build toward students’ future work with expression, equations and proportional reasoning in grades 6-8. Vocabulary: constant, variable, algebraic expression Special Materials: Precut figures placed in baggies for each student or pair of students OR square paper (construction paper or colored copy paper; one per student or pair of students) Scissors