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Subject:   Using algebra tiles with students
Author: Suzanne
Date: Feb 23 2004
Hi George,

I used concrete algebra tiles with my seventh grade students but actually I had
to use a paper (homemade) version because at that time I only had one set of
transparent (for the overhead projector) tiles. Class sets of algebra tiles were
expensive and there wasn't yet a virtual set that I was aware of or that would
run on the Mac LC580s that I had in the lab!

I agree with Susan that some students can really benefit from manipulating
concrete or virtual algebra tile manipulatives - visual learners and kinesthetic
learners. I found that middle school students, in particular, benefit from a
variety of approaches and so even if I had had an algebra tile applet available,
I would have probably combined the use of my paper sets of algebra tiles with
its use in the lesson!

I wrote two "lessons" on this topic when I was in the classroom. I found that if
you introduce the idea of factoring whole numbers before you introduce the idea
of factoring algebraic expressions, it helps students understand what is going
on. So, I wrote:

Understanding Factoring through Geometry

Understanding Algebraic Factoring

An online resource on algebra tiles is Henri Picciotto's site, Algebra


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