Would You Rather Listen to the Lesson?

Substitution is something your students are extremely familiar with. Use this to your advantage!
Start your lesson off with a real world example, something like this...
Teacher  Who in here plays basketball?
Johnny  I do!
Teacher  Do you start on the basketball team Johnny?
Johnny  Yes, I do!
(Everyone is very intrigued at this point. You have their attention!)
Teacher  Do you ever come out of the game Johnny?
Johnny  Sometimes...
Teacher  What do they call it when they take you out Johnny?
Johnny  Substitution, the person coming in for me is called a sub.
(They think he is teaching you something)
Teacher  So, does the player coming in for you play the same position as you?
Johnny  Yes, he would be taking over for me.
Teacher  So, ideally he would be a replacement and just as good as you?
Johnny  Ideally... Yes! (He will then make a smart remark about how good he is and the sub is never a good as the starter.)
Teacher  (If he does make a remark about their equality simply say) I understand Johnny, but IDEALLY he would be an equal replacement. Right?
Johnny  Yes...
Teacher  Interesting...
Then you can talk to them about a substitute teacher or however many other examples they need.
Once they start to understand that a substitute in any situation is ideally of equal value then you can go into teaching them substitution. This will give them a good solid foundation of what the word substitution means and how it is exactly the same in Algebra. We want to take something that is of the same value and substitute it in for something that needs to come out. Give them direct comparisons. If your variables are x and y then tell them y has to come out of the game what does he get replaced with of equal value? How can I make my equation have one variable?
Think about it realistically... When you substitute out the y (player) is the next of equal value? Not usually is x=y so what has to come in with x to make them the same value?
Be creative! Here are two cool little videos to help with your lesson...
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