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Topic: when should students take algebra?
Replies: 8   Last Post: Mar 26, 1997 6:36 PM

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Ken Blystone

Posts: 15
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: when should students take algebra?
Posted: Mar 24, 1997 3:21 PM
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On Thu, 20 Mar 1997 wrote:

> I would like to find some research regarding the developmental age for
> students to take a structured Algebra course. Typically it has been the
> freshman year of high school. I am trying to find data that supports or
> disputes this. Thanks.
> Deb Smith

I hesitate posting because of the "flaming flamers," but I am involved in
a project whereby we introduce algebraic rudiments at 1st grade using a
computerized math manipulative program called Mouse-N-Math. Local
teachers have students form "expressions" such as 2R + 2G = O. First
graders have no problem understanding that letters R and G are
"variables" needed to solve for "O." R = Red, G = Green, and O = Orange.
It is a way to "play" with numbers (values) in a format that uses
"letters" to make a mathematical expression. What I do not know how to
do and invite comments and suggestions is to carry on the process in
grades 2,3,4, a way that is meaningful and builds on previous learning.

If children using Mouse-N-Math can handle "expressions" like 2R + 2G = O,
and I have seen many kids do this, then I don't feel that waiting until
the 9th grade for algebra makes much sense. Personally, I think it has
to do with teaching conceptually vs rote procedures. If introduced early
and progressively I see no reason for kids to not be doing algebra in
elementary school.

BTW, Mouse-N-Math is a freeware program developed by local teachers in an
attempt to live by the spirit of the NCTM standards.

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