We have been practicing representing expressions with algebra tiles.  We are getting pretty good at it.  Now that weare solving equations, these representations are becoming useful yet again.  We put a popsicle stick as the equal sign, and have to do the same thing on each side, always.  We can add blue or red tiles to make zeros, or divide up both sides into groups to simplify equations.
This is 2x=8. To simplify it, we can divide each side in two groups and we can see that 1x=4. Here we have variables on both sides of the equal sign.  Our goals are as follows

1. Get all variables on one side
2. Eliminate the constant that is on the same side as the variable
3. Eliminate the coefficient beside the variable.

So this equation is 5x=3x-2

We can simplify by either removing 3 red rectangles (3x) from each side, or by placing 3 blue rectangles (-3x) on each side. This will leave us with 2x=-2 and we split each side up into 2 groups to see that x=-1

Using algebra tiles helps us see what we are doing, and helps us understand.