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Unit Overview

Unit title:

Exploring equality-What is the true meaning of the equals sign? And how can this help

us find unknown quantities?

Content maths area:

Algebra

Grade/year level:

Grade 4- level 4

Learning Focus (ideas extrapolated from AusVELS):

Level 4

Content strand- Number & Algebra

Sub strand- Patterns and Algebra

1) Use equivalent number sentences involving addition and subtraction to find unknown

quantities (ACMNA083)(VCCA, 2013).

Proficiency strands:

Understanding includes making connections between representations of numbers

Problem Solving includes formulating, modelling and recording authentic situations

involving operations.

Reasoning includes using generalizing from number properties and results of

calculations (VCCA, 2013).

Rationale:

In order for students to be able to effectively find the correct unknown quantity, they

must have a clear understanding of the equals sign, and what it actually represents

(Brown, 2008). These lessons will therefore, allow students to explore the equals sign

and deal with any misconceptions they may have, so that they can then determine

whether an equation is correct and can explore how equality can help us find the

answer of unknown quantities.

Assumed prior knowledge of students:

Students can calculate challenging addition and subtraction equations, however some

students are struggling to understand the true meaning of the equals sign.

Grouping strategies to support learning:

Learning will be supported by grouping students in mixed ability groups. Rogers, (2002)

states that placing students in same ability groups can decrease their motivation to

learn and overall achievement levels. Therefore in placing students in mixed ability

groups, the lower achievers can learn via interactions with the higher achieves in the

classroom.

Overview of assessment:

Summative assessment will be used at the commencement of the unit to assess and

record what students know. Throughout the unit however, the majority of assessment

will be formative and ongoing. At the end of the unit, summative assessment will be

used again to assess what students have learnt, and to assess also if they have

grasped the main mathematical concepts associated with equivalence and unknown

quantities.

References:

Brown, J. (2008). Structuring Mathematical Thinking in the Primary Year. In J.

Vincent, R. Pierce, & J. Dowsey (Eds.), Connected Maths Proceedings of the 4th

Annual Conference of the Mathematical Association of Victoria. MAV: Melbourne.

Rogers, K. (2002). Grouping the gifted and talented. Roeper Review, 24(4), 103-

107

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. (2013). AusVELS: The

Australian Curriculum in Victoria. Retrieved from http://ausvels.vcaa.vic.edu.au/

Ontario, (2007). Patterning and Algebra Learning Activities Grade 5: Online

Teaching Resource. Queens Printer for Ontario. 1-30. Retrieved from

http://eworkshop.on.ca/edu/pdf/Mod42_algebra_act_gr5.pdf

Downton, A., Sexton, M, & Brown, J. (2013). EDMA310 & EDMA360:

Mathematics Learning and Teaching 2: Book of Reading, Activities and Resources.

Australian Catholic University: Melbourne.

MATHEMATICS UNIT PLANNER

Topic: Number and Algebra Year Level: 4 Term: 4 Week: 1 Date:

Key mathematical understandings

The equals sign represents equivalence

What is represented on one side of the

equals sign must be the same on the other

side of the equals sign.

Understanding equivalence can help us find

unknown quantities.

Key AusVELS Focus / Standard (taken directly from AusVELS documents):

Content strand(s): Number and Algebra

Sub-strand(s):

Level descriptions:

1) Use equivalent number sentences involving addition and subtraction to find unknown quantities (ACMNA083)

Proficiency strand(s): Understanding, Problem Solving & Reasoning

Understanding includes making connections between representations of numbers

Problem Solving includes formulating, modelling and recording authentic situations involving operations.

Reasoning includes using generalizing from number properties and results of calculations

Possible misconceptions (list of misconceptions related to

the mathematical idea/topic that students might develop):

Misconception of the equals sign

- Students may believe that the equals sign

indicates for us to find the answer, and will

therefore struggle to find an unknown

quantity, without the understanding of

equality.

- Believe that the left hand side of an equation

is the problem, and the right hand side is

where the

Key skills to develop and practise (including strategies,

ways of working mathematically, language goals, etc.) (4-5 key skills

only):

Conjecturing

Testing

Explaining

Justifying

Key equipment / resources:

Balance and weights

True or false cards

Sea saw and weights

Interactive whiteboard

Book- Equal Shmequal by Virginia L. Kroll

Key probing questions (focus questions that will be used to

develop understanding to be used during the sequence of lessons; 3 5

probing questions):

What do you think the equals sign means?

Can you justify your reasons behind your

thinking?

Can you test whether your justifications are

correct?

Links to other contexts (if applicable, e.g., inquiry unit focus,

current events, literature, etc.):

Literacy- Using the book Equal Shmequal

Inquiry based learning- questioning, making

conjectures, testing and explaining.

Key vocabulary:

Same as

Equal

True

False

Unknown quantities

Variables

Symbols

L

e

a

r

n

i

n

g

s

t

r

a

t

e

g

i

e

s

/

s

k

i

l

l

s

Analysing

Checking

Classifying

Co-operating

Considering options

Designing

Elaborating

Estimating

Explaining

Generalising

Hypothesising

Inferring

Interpreting

Justifying

Listening

Locating information

Making choices

Note taking

Observing

Ordering events

Organising

Performing

Persuading

Planning

Predicting

Presenting

Providing feedback

Questioning

Reading

Recognising bias

Reflecting

Reporting

Responding

Restating

Revising

Seeing patterns

Selecting information

Self-assessing

Sharing ideas

Summarising

Synthesising

Testing

Viewing

Visually representing

Working independently

Working to a timetable

MATHEMATICAL

FOCUS

(what you want the children

to come to understand as a

result of this lesson short,

succinct statement)

TUNING IN

(WHOLE CLASS FOCUS)

(a short, sharp task relating to the focus of

the lesson; sets the scene/ context for what

students do in the independent aspect. e.g.,

It may be a problem posed, spider diagram,

an open-ended question, game, or reading a

story)

INVESTIGATIONS

SESSION

(INDEPENDENT LEARNING)

(extended opportunity for students to work

in pairs, small groups or individually. Time

for teacher to probe childrens thinking or

work with a small group for part of the

time and to also conduct roving

conferences)

REFLECTION & MAKING

CONNECTIONS

SESSION

(WHOLE CLASS FOCUS)

(focused teacher questions and

summary to draw out the mathematics

and assist children to make links. NB.

This may occur at particular points

during a lesson. Use of spotlight,

strategy, gallery walk, etc.)

ADAPTATIONS

- Enabling prompt

(to allow those experiencing

difficulty to engage in active

experiences related to the

initial goal task)

- Extending prompt

(questions that extend

students thinking on the initial

task)

ASSESSMENT

STRATEGIES

(should relate to objective. Includes

what the teacher will listen for,

observe, note or analyse; what

evidence of learning will be collected

and what criteria will be used to

analyse the evidence)

Session 1

Children will

understand the

true meaning

of the equals

sign.

Have students complete a

short task to access their

current knowledge of the

equals sign.

On the board ask students to

determine the answer of the

following equation:

10 +4= _+ 5

Give students a blank piece of

paper to complete their

workings, and allow them to

work at their desks.

Ask students to share their

ideas.

Teacher note- if most students

have the same answer, ask if

anyone has come up with a

different answer. If students

In small groups students will

be given a balance scales

and weights of different

measures. Students will be

asked to explore these

weights- can you and your

group use these weights to

show how the equals sign

works?

On butchers paper each

group will be asked to

represent what they have

found, using drawings and

symbols to show this.

Teacher note: ask students

to see if they can use

different weight amounts on

Each group will share what

they have discovered and

explored using the balance

scales and weights.

Discuss how these drawn

representations can be

written down using

numerals and as equations.

Can we find out the answer

to the following equation

using the balance scales:

10+ 4=_+5

What is the missing

number?

Enabling prompt:

Students will be

asked to use fewer

weights for instance

5 kilos and 2kilos

equals (is the same

as) 7 kilos.

Or asked to just

explore the different

possibilities that

make the scales

balance.

Extending Prompt-

Ask students to write

equations for what

Summative assessment:

Initial test- will provide

information to determine

what students already

know about the equals

sign and any

misconceptions they may

have.

Formative assessment-

The teacher will listen to

and look out for

teachable moments

where she/he can

provide feedback.

Observation will be used-

along with sticky notes to

have the correct answer- they

will be asked to explain what

they did.

Read the short story Equal

Shmequal by Virginia L. Kroll

and discuss how the theme

and how the animals explored

the idea of equals. What did

they use in the story?

Ask: So what does the equals

sign truly represent and tell us?

Discuss same as and

equivalence.

Introduce scales and weights.

each side.

For instance- If you had 3

kilos and 2 kilos on one side

of the balance (using

different weights amounts)

what would you need to put

on the other side of the

scales to make the scales

balance?

10 kilos + 4 kilos = 5 kilos

and how many more?

they are exploring. jot down the

understanding of specific

students.

Session 2

Students will

be able to

determine

whether

equations are

correctly or

incorrectly

written as

equivalent

(making

justifications to

support their

answers).

Students will be introduced to

the true or false game- (see

appendix 1)

To make sure that students

have a proper understanding of

this game, an equation will be

written on the board for the

class and teacher to do

together(together they will

discuss whether the equation

is true or false and why this is

so-how is this justified)

(Downton, Sexton & Brown,

2012).

Equation:

20+45= 90- 35

20+45=65 90-35 =55

Can we change one number in

the equation to make this

equation true?

90-25=???? 25 instead of 35?

Discuss this as a class

Students will work in pairs to

determine if the equation

cards they are given are true

or false.

Students will take turns to

choose an equation and

determine if it is true or false,

by arguing and justifying their

answer to their partner.

A few students will be

asked to present an

argument for or against the

correctness of one of their

chosen equations.

The rest of the class will be

encouraged to debate

whether or not they agree

with the statement made,

and discuss whether they

think that their justification

is convincing and logical.

As a whole class- discuss

what was learnt about

number sentences.

Enabling Prompt

Students who are

struggling will work in

a teacher pull out

group to together

determine whether

the cards are true or

false.

Extending prompt

Once students come

across a false

equation they will

write down the

equation again,

however substituting

one number for a

number which will

make the equation

correct.

Formative Assessment

Students will be

assessed through

observation.

The Teacher will listen

out for student

justifications, to

determine what they

understand and access

whether they are

understanding the

concept of equivalence. If

justifications are unclear,

teachers should ask

themselves what are

these children struggling

to understand- and what

can be done to help

these students.

Session 3

Students will

further establish

their understanding

of equivalence.

Students will

recognise how we

can use variables

to express

equations.

Students will revisit the book

Equal Shmequal

As a class the teacher and

students will discuss how they

can write an equation using the

characters in the story who are

playing tug or war.

In order for the characters to

play, they had to have the

same amount of weight on

either side.

Using a scale to measure

themselves, the characters in

the story realised that the

weight of a fox was the same

as the weight of 4 turtles, and

the weight of 2 squirrels was

the same as the weight of 2

turtles.

Draw a diagram as a class

to show how the animals in the

story are balanced. What could

their weights be?

Which animal do you think

weighs the most?

Ask the class to

brainstorm ways they could

represent each animal

without having to draw each

animal (Ontario, 2007, p. 21).

Pose the question:

How many different ways can

the animals combine on

either side of the teeter

totter to make the teeter

totter balance if you have a

fox, 4 turtles, and 6

Squirrels? (Ontario, 2007,

p.22).

F for fox, T for turtle, and S

for squirrel

F = T + T + T + T

T + T = S + S + S

Helping questions

If a fox (unrealistically)

weighs 12 kilos, how much

would a turtle weigh?

How much would 2 turtles

weigh?

Does this help you solve the

problem?

In mixed ability groups of 4-4

students will be given the

opportunity to use the

balance scales and weights

to help them determine all

possibilities, and justify their

answers.

A spokesman from every

group will be asked to

share what they have

discovered, and share the

reasons why they believe

the answers that they have

found are correct.

Enabling prompt:

Use specific weights,

instead of variables.

Extending prompt:

Do not ask the

helping questions.

Formative Assessment

Roving conference with

groups and individual

students- Students will be

assessed throughout the

lesson through the

observations made of

them working through the

problem. Student

justifications will be taken

into consideration to

access their overall

understanding.

Introduce students to key

terminology- what is a

variable?

Session 4

Students will be

able to write their

own worded

problems with an

unknown quantity,

as well as

determine the

answer and make

justifications to

demonstrate why

the answer is

correct.

Students will be asked the

question outlined in the

AusVels curriculum

When a number is added to

23 the answer is the same as

57 minus 19. What is the

number? (VCCA, 2013).

Students will take part in a

think-pair-share in relation to

this question.

A few students will be asked to

share their ideas and outline

the strategies which they used

to find the answer.

Students will be introduced to

the next activity- of creating

their own worded stories of

equality for find an unknown

quantity.

Discuss this- and complete an

example with students.

Individually students will be

asked to write an equation of

equality with an unknown.

On a separate paper

students will be asked to

answer their own problem

and justify their answer in

words, pictures and

diagrams.

Some students will be

asked to share their worded

problems with the rest of

the class.

The rest of the class will

work together to answer the

problem, and find the

unknown variable or

amount.

The student sharing will

then determine whether this

answer is correct, using

examples to justify this.

Enabling prompt:

Struggling students

will work in a pull out

group to gather ideas

on questions they

could pose.

Extending prompt:

Students will be

asked to use

variables within their

problem.

Summative

Assessment

Students work will be

collected and assessed

in regards to the

complexity of the

question, and fore mostly

in regards to the

justifications the students

made in regards to

finding the unknown

quantity.

scu

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