I have found simplying expressions to be one of the most challenging Algebra 1 topics. This post shows a scaffolded handout approach to simplifying.
Scaffolding Like Terms
I have attempted to provide a deeper understanding of “like terms” in this post. This handout may be a useful follow up or it may be the entry point for simplifying.
The scaffolded handout focuses attention on the problem being an expression and on unpacking what simplifying and like terms mean. This is followed by a sequence of steps to address each mental and written step.
An effective strategy is to color code, showing which terms are like terms.
Here is a link to the handout.