Math = Love: Translating Expressions, Equations, and Inequalities Interactive Notebook Pages

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Translating Expressions, Equations, and Inequalities Interactive Notebook Pages

Today I want to share our first Algebra 1 notes of the year.  I'm structuring my course a bit differently this year.  This year, my goal is to give my students more meaningful problems to solve.  I want to contextualize every problem possible.  In the past, I've given my students lots of equations to solve that were just numbers and variables without meaning.  I've given my students written expressions to translate into algebraic expressions without giving them a reason for why we needed to translate them.  This year, my goal is to set up my course so that students start to see how everything we are doing ties together.

My first goal of the year was to get students translating expressions, differentiating between expressions, equations, and inequalities, and identifying their parts.

To kick off the lesson, we took notes on the definitions of expressions, equations, and inequalities.  Then, I had each class make their own examples of each.  I found that almost all of my classes wanted to create expressions, equations, and inequalities that were all numbers and no variables.  At first, this frustrated me.  Then, I began to realize that this was a great form of formative assessment.  It showed me exactly what my students were comfortable with.

On the inside of the foldable, there are three sections: expressions, equations, and inequalities.

I also gave students 12 boxes.  Each box had an expression, an equation, or an inequality written in word form.

The first thing we did was decide whether each box was an expression, equation, or inequality.  Once they were all glued into our foldable, we went through each one and highlighted the key terms.  We used these key terms to translate them into algebra.

To help my students keep track of all of the key words and what they (usually) mean, I gave my students a key word chart to glue in their interactive notebooks.

Since we'll be using this chart ALL year long, I wanted to glue this chart into our notebook in such a way that we can reference it easily.

To achieve this, I had my students tri-fold the chart.  When we're not using the chart, it lays in tri-folded form on a left-hand page in our notebooks.

When we need to reference it, it folds out of our notebooks.  As you can see, the blank section is glued into our notebooks.

The awesome thing about this is later in the year, we'll still be able to see the chart no matter what page we're on in our notebook.

Here's our chart when not in use.

Note the "turn around" words at the bottom.  These are the phrases that tell students to switch the order from how it is written between word form and algebra form.  I've used this strategy for several years, but this is the first time I've ever given my students the "turn around" phrase in print with students.  Now, my students are continually reminding each other, "Hey, don't forget it's a turn around word!" which is just music to a math teacher's ears!

To go over the parts of an expression, we made a "poof book" that covers terms, coefficients, and constants.  Here's the cover of the book:

Not sure how this book was assembled?  I did a post on a book for a different topic with the same template/approach here.

Notes over terms:

Notes over coefficients:

Notes over constants:

After discussing each vocab word, I gave my students more written phrases to translate into algebra.  After translating, students had to underline each term, highlight each coefficient, and circle each constant.

And, a close-up:

Files can be downloaded here.  


  1. Thank you sooooo much! I love your resources.

    I used these templates this morning with my Grade 10s and 11s and they worked out so well. Cheers!

  2. Hi Sarah,

    Thank you so much for sharing these resources. I was looking for some Algebra revision activities for my Yer 7 students who are coming back from break and I think I can work with your resources. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  3. Hi Sarah --
    I've been using your templates and had a student tell me twice so far, "I love the way we do our notebooks in this class!" My students all have dyslexia, and your easy-to-follow INB pages and cutting/highlighting/circling activities work wonderfully for them.