Algebraic Expressions in 6th Grade Math
Translating between words and math in 6th grade  sometimes this can be easy, but some phrases can definitely be tricky!
By the time we start 'officially' translating between words and algebraic expressions, we've already done some translating to numerical expressions through our daily spiral review. To connect translating words to numerical expressions and translating between words and algebraic expressions, we take some more time to translate between words and numerical expressions. We use an organizer to list the key words that typically signal the different operations. (I use the same type of circle organizer I use for my "Memory Wheel" templates.) We typically include the following math terms and phrases, as you can see in the organizer: Addition
Translating Words to Expressions  Tricky Phrases
The phrases I starred in the list above ('less than' and 'more than') are always tricky for some students.
6th grade math students often want to use the 'less than' or 'greater than' signs when they translate a phrase like 'ten more than seven.' To help students clarify the idea that 'more than' means 'addition' and 'less than' means 'subtraction', I do the following:
When we move to algebraic expressions like 'ten more than x" we talk about substituting a number in place of the x, before they decide on the algebraic expression to write. Graphic Organizer for Translating Between Words and Math
This organizer is pretty simple. The first year I used it with my 6th graders, I gave students the option to use the printed organizer or draw their own. While most used the printed version, creating their own wasn't too difficult.
After adding the operation terms, students added these to their interactive math notebooks (if they drew their own, they drew right in their notebooks.) Translating from Words to Algebraic Expressions
When we make the transition to translating between words and algebraic expressions, I typically:
For example, for the phrase, '20 divided by the sum of a number and 3':
Similarly, when students covert an algebraic expression to words, they need to be sure to indicate what should happen first in that expression. For example, for the algebraic expression, (x + 8) ÷ 5:
Translating between words and algebraic expressions can be tricky, but using strategies like substituting, underlining and following the order of operations definitely helps! What strategies do you use to teach translating between words and algebraic expressions? Resources to practice translating words and algebraic expressions:To Read Next:
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