Linear Equation Activity
Teacher's Notes

Symbolic Manipulation
Using Technology

Given a "real world" situation students will write an equation which represents the problem stated. The activity will ask students to use estimation to determine the reasonableness of an answer then students will be guided through the symbolic manipulation required to solve the equation using the graphing calculator (dynamic algebra software).

Rationale for this Lesson:
The idea for this activity grew out of two concerns:

  1. My concern for students' ability to be able to use symbolic manipulation in the process of solving equations in the wave of tools of technology.

    Our curriculum changes have encouraged the analysis of functions using the concept of the "Four Faces of a Function".

    • Function Statement (Relationship)
    • Graph
    • Table
    • Equation

    Students are demonstrating improvement in their ability to reason and analyze situations and in identification of the related model. However, I see weaknesses in their abilities to manipulate symbols and to understand those manipulations.

  2. Discussions about the effectiveness of technology lessons and meaningful applications that students can relate at home where they may or may not have access to the same technology as in the classroom. (Of course for some students and schools the opposite could be true.)

I hope that this activity will enable students to "see" the manipulation and to visualize the concept of isolating terms.

I would appreciate and comments about the rationale for this activity and about the activity itself. If you have any suggestions please send them to me. If you use this activity in your classroom please let me know how it worked or didn't work for you.

Email: Marjorie Ader at

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