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Dear Families,

Welcome to the Project M3 unit, At the Mall With Algebra: Working with Variables and Equations. Our class is looking forward to this unit on algebraic reasoning where we will investigate variables, expressions, and equations. First, students will play games and solve puzzles to help them learn about how variables can represent varying quantities as well as unknown values. They will write mathematical expressions using symbols such as 3 times a number plus 1 equals 40 (3N + 1 = 40) and learn some informal methods for determining the value of N.

Students also get an opportunity to use variables as they solve sets of equations with two unknowns. During these investigations, students use a variety of problem solving strategies including guess-and-check, make an organized list, substitution and logical reasoning to find the values in the equations. They learn about real-life situations where algebra comes in handy! When students work on solving sets of equations, they also bump into many mathematical properties such as the commutative property of multiplication and properties of zero.

In the final lesson, students simulate a visit to the mall as a culminating project for the unit. Students become shop owners and work with a partner to determine the cost of their merchandise. They write sets of equations that their classmates then solve in order to figure out the price of the merchandise. Students have an opportunity to present their shop goods and equations, their strategies to solve their set of equations, and the solutions. In this final project, they will be working just like mathematicians!

At the heart of all Project M3 investigations are problem solving, reasoning, and creative thinking. When students use these mathematical practices, they think and act like mathematicians. This helps them gain a deep understanding of the mathematics and develops their mathematical talent.

I hope your child enjoys exploring this unit and the mathematical challenges it poses. I invite you to share in the discoveries your child makes by engaging in conversation around the family dinner table. You may even learn something new about variables and algebra from your young mathematician!

Sincerely,
Mrs. McGee