I also tend to teach solving linear inequalities at the same time, as it helps pupils see the connection between the two topics. For some reason, pupils panic at inequalities in exam situations, even though the solving process is identical, and teaching both equations and inequalities at the same time goes some way to avoid this. One thing that's crucial when working with manipulatives such as algebra tiles is that pupils also develop ways of working with correct algebraic notation. When I teach this lesson, while I get pupils to use the tiles to model and demonstrate their calculations, I also ask them to record their working "traditionally" in their exercise books, reinforcing the move away from the tiles to a pure algebraic solution. 
By the time I teach linear equations, I've already used algebra tiles quite a lot with pupils to create algebraic expressions. After working through onestep equations and ensuring pupils understand the processes involved (rather than just solving "by eye"), I move on to linear equations. 
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May 2016

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For some reason, pupils panic at inequalities in exam situations, even though the solving process is identical, and teaching both equations and inequalities at the same time goes some way to avoid this.
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