Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Algebra Wizards

Jesica Goodman


Hey! Are you an Algebra wizard? It is as easy as one, two, three to be the greatest wizard in all the land. So take out your magic wand and put on your magical thinking hats to see if you too know the magic equation to be an Algebra Wizard.


The student uses a variable to represent a given verbal expression (for example, 5 more than a number is n + 5).

The student translates equations into verbal and written problem situations.


-Dr Seuss, HOORAY FOR DIFFENDOOFER DAY with help from Jack Prelutsky and Lane Smith: Alfred A.Knope, NewYork
-Pencil/ Paper
-Copies of attached Worksheets (see associated file)
-Math Check list for each student (see associated file)
-Unifix cubes for manipulatives (100 per group of two)


1. Acquire the book or any book about teachers who are extraordinary
2. Need copies of attached worksheets (see associated file)
3. Make a copy of math checklist for assessment (see associated file)


1. Read book to students. (However, any story about weird teachers or extraordinary teachers may be used.)

2. Ask students: Who was the weirdest teacher and why?

3. Have students tell you how many years ago they had that teacher as a teacher.

4. Jot the students' information about teachers on the board as students tell you. Include teacher's name, how many years ago it’s been since they saw that teacher.

5. Tell student about your (the teacher’s) weirdest teacher and why that teacher was so weird to you. Tell students how many years it has been since you have seen that teacher.

6. Ask students how could they figure out how many years ago it was. Possible answers are: they counted back, they subtracted this year from the year they had the teacher.

7. Model and explain using a variable to represent to students how you figured out how many years ago it was since you saw your teacher.

8. Explain to students that the way they found the answers to their problems is called Algebraic thinking.

9. Let them know that it is a big word but that you want them to echo the word Algebraic thinking. Then say “Yes, Algebraic thinking”. (Constant repetition is good for S.L.D. and E.S.O.L. students) Write words on the board (Needed for visual learners). Tell students, “Today you will be learning how to solve written equations and how to use a variable to represent a given verbal expression.”

10. On the board write 1 + n = 3

11. Tell students that, “n is called a variable. A variable is something we do not know, but have to figure out. Just like when we had to figure out how many years ago it was since they saw their weirdest teacher. Tell students that the way they say that problem is one plus something equals three.

12. Ask students whether or not they know what the answer for 1+n=3 (the majority of students should know this. For those who do not understand, simply re-tell class that you are trying to figure out how many more you need to get to three.

13. Tell students that that example was an easy one, but what if they had to figure out 6 X n=36
Ask student what would they have to do to figure out this one (Possible answers include: make groups of six until you reach 36, you have to know your six times tables, or you have to divide 36 by 6 to get your answer. Using manipulatives model for each example.

14. Tell each student to write an equation using a variable. Explain to student the criteria is based on the attached checklist. Give each student a copy for reference as they create their equations.

15. Have students get with a partner. Pass out Master Wizard Work sheet.

16. When they are done trade with their partners and have their partners try to figure out their problems. As students are working in groups walk around to be sure they are including a variable in their equations and following the criteria of their checklists. Also, do some guided teaching with students who are appearing to have a difficult time.

17. After about five minutes, have students share the problem their partner gave them with the class and explain how they got their answer.

18. If a student explains correctly and shows knowledge of knowing what a variable is, congratulate them on becomeing an algebra wizard. Little incentives such as wizard stickers or motivational stickers help build self-esteem.


Using a checklist assess whether or not students are able to use a variable that represents a given verbal expression, and check to see if students are able to translate and solve a written problem. (See associated file)


Extensions include doing Magic Squares Worksheet included in associated file. Students can also later do a journal entry on their weirdest teacher or an entry on what they learned in this lesson along with what they did not understand.

Modifications for specific learners include repetition and labeling vocabulary words along with definitions. Give plenty of examples. Students need to know basic addition and multiplication facts. Using Precision teaching can help.
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