D iscover the variable and the operation(s).

  • Highlight variables (letters) in 1 color.
  • Circle the operation sign.

"Let's see, I need to first discover the variable in the problem. There is a variable after 4, so I will highlight it yellow. There is another variable a after 2 and I will highlight it yellow also. I also need to discover the operation signs. The first operation in this problem is addition, and the second is subtraction. I am going to circle the + and the - signs"

R ead the equation.

  • Combine like terms on each side of the equation.
  • Figure out what the left side of the equation equals.

"Now I need to combine like terms and figure out the left side of the equation. Let's see 4a and 2a both have the variable a, so they are like terms. 4a plus 2a equals 6a.I can also combine 9 - 3. Nine minus three is six. I know what the left side of the equation equals, so now I will write the equation 6a+ 6 = 30."


A nswer the equation, or draw and check.
  • See example of how to draw the solution.

"Now I need to answer the equation. First I need to subtract six from both sides.That leaves 6a on the left side and 24 on the right side. 6a = 24 is the equation I need to solve. That means that there are six groups of 'a' that all together equal twenty-four. I will draw to find the answer to the equation. First I need to draw six groups. Now I need to look at the other side of the equation. The answer for this problem is twenty-four, so I will draw twenty-four tally marks. Now I need to divide the twenty-four tally marks equally among the six circles. When I put the twenty-four tally marks equally in the six circles, each circle has four tally marks in it. That means that I have six groups of four. So four is variable a's value."

Write the answer for the variable.
  • Be sure to check the equation.

"Let me check my answer. I have solved the equation and discovered that the value for a is four, so I will substitute 4 for a in the equation.First I will combine like terms. 4a plus 2a is 6a, and 9 - 3 is 6. Now my equation is 6a + 6 = 30. I am going to substitute four for the variable a. That means that 6a is six times four, or twenty-four. Twenty-four plus six is thirty. I have solved the equation correctly because I have thirty on both sides of the equation"

substituting the value 4 for a makes the equation:


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