Mr. Equal: How to Use CPA to Help Students Understand if Mathematical Equations or Values are Equal or Not

Mar 28, 2016

Students have a difficult time with the ideas of “greater than” and “less than” and in showing that a mathematical statement is true or false. If you think about it, the vocabulary that is involved can be quite confusing: Bigger, Smaller, Larger, Greater Than, Less Than, Equal To, Not Equal to, False, True, etc.

mr equal balance more pic

Check out this lesson called Mr. Equal, The Tight Rope Walker

Domain: Operations and Algebraic Thinking (1.OA.7)

(Adapted from: Smith, Margaret Schwan, Victoria Bill, and Elizabeth K. Hughes. “Thinking Through a Lesson Protocol: Successfully Implementing High-Level Tasks.” Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School 14 (October 2008): 132-138.)Mr Equal lesson pic

Click HERE to see the full lesson.

Mr. Equal uses CPA to help students understand if mathematical equations or values are equal or not. This is a great lesson that uses a primary balance scale to help students conceptualize the concept that is being taught.  It can be used in a variety of ways depending on what the content of your lesson is. Many students, when using place value blocks, often get confused if a value is greater than or less than  another. I was in a classroom a few weeks ago where the students built the numbers 17 and 22 with base ten blocks. The student felt the 17 was larger because there were more base ten blocks being used (7 ones) when 22 only had 2 ones. This if often the same misconception we find in classrooms during this concept.
This lesson can also be differentiated by using the equation side of the recording sheet or the more or less side…depending on what your students are capable of academically.

Mr Equal picMr. Equal Student Recording Sheet

Related Posts

Working with Fractions: Adding Fractions

Working with Fractions: Adding Fractions

Finding the least common denominator? Find out why that’s more work and see how understanding equivalent fractions make adding fractions easier!

Working with Fractions: Dividing Fractions

Working with Fractions: Dividing Fractions

For most of us dividing fraction is one of those things where we got the right answer in math, but we don’t really remember why. Most of us memorized a procedure with a concept we don't understand: “don’t ask why, just invert and multiply.” Maybe it’s time to ask...