## Interpreting Equations

When introducing equations, it is important for students to understand the idea that the left side of the equation should be equivalent to the right side. Therefore, important groundwork is developed when displaying an equation and labeling the left and right sides of the equation.

Materials: Overhead projector or front board on which to write.

Prerequisite Skills and Concepts: Students should have a working knowledge of simplifying expressions using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

• Ask: What does this symbol (=) mean?
Place an equal sign on the board. Students need to be able to recognize this symbol. Do not assume that all of your students understand that it identifies equivalent values. Many student believe that the equal sign simply means to give the answer.
• Ask: Can someone give me an example of when you would use an equal sign?
Ask your students to come up with several examples. Select an example such as 5 + 3 = 8 and write it on the board. Draw a vertical line through the equal sign.
• Ask: Describe what is on the left side of the dotted line. What is on the right side of the dotted line?
Try to have students describe the numbers as well as the operation. The left side has 5 + 3 while the right side only has 8.
• Ask: What is the value of the left side of the equation? What is the value of the right side of the equation?
The goal is for students to notice that the value of the left side of the equation equals the value on the right side of the equation.
• Place another example on the board, such as 3 + 7 = 8 + 2
• Ask: What is the value of the left side of the equation? What is the value of the right side of the equation?
The students should notice that the value of the left side of the equation equals the value on the right side of the equation. Generate a discussion on the differences between the first and second example. Discuss the fact that both sides of the equation had multiple numbers and an operation symbol. This helps the student to begin discovering that for an equation to be a true mathematical statement, the value on both sides must be equivalent.
• Continue with additional examples using different equations.

Interpreting Equations