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Lesson plan

Identifying Parts of an Expression Lesson Plan - 6th Grade Math


In this lesson, students are introduced to the concept of identifying parts of an expression for `6`th grade. You can expect this lesson to take one `45`-minute class period.

Grade 6
Expressions, Equations, And Inequalities
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Students will be able to identify parts of an expression.


  • Teacher Slideshow
  • Parts of an Expression Signs
  • Online Practice

How to Teach Identifying Parts of an Expression

Start with WODB (Which one doesn't belong)

Which one does not belong is a great way for a teacher to determine students' current understanding of expressions. Display slide `1` for students and ask them to note down their answers and the reasons for their answers. Encourage students to write as many answers as they can think of.

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Share ideas with the class 

Students turn to their partner and share their answers and their reasoning. I typically called on students and asked them what their partner said that was different from what they had written down.  This will lead to a discussion about what each one represents. Here are some responses you may hear from students:

  • `3` because it is just a number
  • `4y` because it is a number with a variable
  • `y` because it is just a variable
  • `3+4y` because it has a number and a number with a variable
  • `3 + 4y` because it is the only one that has addition

Acknowledge all students' responses and write them on the board for all students to see. 

Make notes on definitions

Once the discussion wraps up, share with students that they are all alike and different. They are all different parts of an expression. Next, share the following slide to introduce the vocabulary of constant, coefficient, term, and variable. 

Explain to students what each means:

  • Constant: any fixed value
  • Variable: letters or symbols that represent an unknown quantity
  • Coefficient: a number (typically) being multiplied by a variable
  • Term: a single variable, a variable with a coefficient, or a constant. Terms are separated by  `+` or `-` signs.

Class practice identifying parts of an expression

Students love an anchor chart because it allows them to use their resources. The slideshow contains additional examples for identifying parts of an expression using the anchor chart. This gives students a chance to use their anchor chart as a helpful reminder that they can use now and later over multiple lessons. Work with students on the next two slides to practice identifying the parts of an expression. 

Play a game

For this game, give each student the Parts of an Expression sign. They’ll cut out the boxes into cards. With each slide, students will hold up the card that represents the part of the expression that is being highlighted. After each problem, choose a student with the correct sign to share the answer. If there are a lot of the same wrong answer, explain the difference between the right and wrong answer. 

Common misconceptions 

  • Students tend to separate out the coefficients and the variables in the variable terms. For example, with the term `5x`, a student may think `5` and `x` are two separate terms. 
  • With more complicated expressions like `2 - 3(4x-5)`, students think that `2`, `3`, `4x`, and `5` are all terms. Reinforce that terms are separated by `+` and `-` operations outside the parentheses.

Identify Parts of an Expression Practice

After you’ve completed the examples with the whole class, it’s time for some independent practice! ByteLearn gives you access to tons of identifying parts of expression activities. Check out their online practice and assign to your students for classwork and/or homework!

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Identify Parts of an Expression Practice
Problem 1 of 4
<p>Identify the terms, coefficients, variables, and constants in the following expression:</p><p>`12g + 13r + 17 – 3e + h`</p>

View this practice

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