In order for my students to practice changing forms of linear equations, I created a set of cards that they can use multiple ways. For each equation, there are four cards: a version of the equation in y=mx+b form, a version of the equation in x=kx+d form, a version of the equation in standard form, and a scaled up version of the standard form.

I love card sets because I can use them so many ways. I can use them when I first teach the lesson one way. I can then use them again a different way for additional practice or as a quick review leading up to a quiz or a test. I can also use them as part of a differentiated instructional piece of a lesson to work with students who still haven’t mastered the concept. Finally, I can bring them back out in a month in yet another way as a quick refresher. (In Make It Stick, the author articulates the power of revisiting a concept after some time has lapsed in order to “make it stick”).

Option 1 – Card Sort

Students work in table groups or in pairs to sort the cards. They need to match the four different forms of the same equation.

Option 2 – Rummy

Students use the cards to play Rummy. Students play in pairs or triads. Each player is dealt six cards. A single card is face up and the remaining cards are face down in a draw pile. The player to the left of the dealer begins play. He or she takes the top card in the draw pile or takes the top face-up card in the discard pile. The player may lay down any matched sets he or she has face up. A player may add any one or two cards from his or her hand to a matched set already laying face up on the table. If he or she does not play any matched sets, he or she must play a card in the discard pile (it can’t be the same card he or she drew from the face up discard pile). Matches consist of cards that are different forms of the same equation. The first player to play all of his or her cards is the winner.

Option 3 – Odd One Out

Remove one equation card from the set. This leaves one equation with only 3 equations. Since the game play involves making matched pairs, the remaining equation is the “Odd One Out” Students play in groups of 3 or 4. The cards are dealt out. Players look at their cards and lay down their matches (in pairs). When it is a player’s turn, he or she draws a card from another player and tries to make matches with the cards in his or her hand. At the end of the game, the player with the Odd One Out card loses the game. Of the remaining players, the one with the most matches is the winner. (This is essentially Old Maid with equations.)

Option 4 – Concentration

Students work with a partner or play individually. All the cards are laid face down. The player turns over two cards. If the two cards represent the same equation, it is a match and the player keeps them. If they do not represent the same equation, the player turns them face down again. If two players are playing, the next player takes a turn The player with the most matches at the end of the game is the winner.

Option 5 – Spoons

You need a set of teaspoons in addition to the cards. You should have one fewer spoon than the number of players. Put the spoons in small circle in the middle of the table. Deal four cards to each player Each player tries to make four of a kind. The dealer takes a card off the top of the deck, removes one of his/her cards and passes it facedown to the left. Each player discards to the person on his/her left. The last player discards into the trash pile. This continues until someone gets four of kind and takes a spoon from the center. Once the player with four of a kind takes a spoon, anyone can take a spoon. The player without a spoon gets a letter in the word SPOON. When a player has spelled SPOON, he or she is out of the game. If the cards run out, reshuffle the trash pile and continue play.

I didn’t have enough spoons on hand, so we played spoons with forks. Spoons took a far amount of time today, but the students had fun and liked the game. This option is probably best for a review activity rather than on the first day of instruction.

Option 6 – QuizQuizTrade

Each student is given a card of a particular form. I direct them to change it into a different form (e.g., they are given a card in standard form and I tell them to change it to slope intercept form). They solve the problem and then do a Quiz Quiz Trade. Quiz Quiz Trade is a cooperative learning structure. The first partner quizzes the second partner to turn his/her equation into a different form. If he or she struggles, the first partner can give him or her a hint. If he or she continues to struggle, the first partner can give a second tip. If he or she continues to struggle, the first partner can tell the second partner how to solve the problem (Tip Tip Tell). Partners then reverse the process and repeat. Finally, they trade cards and find new partners. I have students continue for whatever amount of time I want to allocate to the task.

Option 7 – Concept Attainment Cards

When I make the card activity, I use a different color of card stock for each set. With this activity, I give each group a set of cards that is all the same color for the desired concept (all the pink cards are in slope intercept form) and a different color for the non-examples (purple cards with equations in standard form or in x=kx+d form). Students then have to look at the examples and non-examples in order to define the concept illustrated by the examples.

Option 8 – Give One Get One

Students line up in two lines, facing each other. I give each student in one line a card with an equation in a specified form of an equation (e.g., everyone in the first line has a card in y=mx+b form). I give each student in the second line a card with an equation in a different form (e.g., everyone in the second line has a card with an equation in x=ky+d form). I then tell everyone to transform their equation into another form (e.g., standard form). When they have done so, they step forward into the space between the lines. They trade cards and solve the other card, discuss their solutions, check each other’s work, and then step back into the lines. When all the partners are done, one line passes their card down and the other line passes it up. The second line shifts up by one (the person at the head of the line goes to the end of it and everyone moves forward) and the first line shifts down by one. Now everyone has a new problem and a new partner. I repeat the process for whatever amount of time I want to allocate to the task.

You can download the rewriting-equations-card-sort file by clicking on the highlighted text.