Main Index

Using Technology and Problem Solving to Build Algebraic Reasoning
  Contact us

Technology Tools for Thinking and Reasoning about Probability
  Contact us

Face-to-face Workshops
  Houston Feb 4, 2006
  Philly April 18-20, 2006
  Summer June 26-29, 2006
  Houston June 27-28, 2007
  Philly June 21-22, 2007
  Institute July 25-27, 2007   Institute July 29 - Aug 2, 2008

Project Research Articles
  Promoting Engagement and Supporting Leadership Development [PDF]
  Motivation and learning in an online, unmoderated, mathematics workshop for teachers

Using Technology and Problem Solving to Build Algebraic Reasoning
Five Dimensions: Mathematics, Technology, Teaching, Learning, and Assessing

In the Math Forum's workshop, Using Technology and Problem Solving to Build Algebraic Reasoning, we will investigate some mathematics topics common to middle school curricula within the theme of algebraic reasoning. In this context we will explore the Math Tools digital library and several software tools that contribute in some way to mathematical understanding, problem solving, reflection and discussion.

In his book entitled Fostering Algebraic Thinking, A Guide for Teachers, Grades 6-10, Mark Driscoll writes: "Because algebra composes so many mathematical features, the term algebraic thinking defies simple definition." The NCTM Standards (NCTM, 2000) says middle school students should learn algebra as both a set of competencies and "a style of mathematical thinking for formalizing patterns, functions, and generalizations."

We will

  • consider what algebraic reasoning means to you and the various forms of it that students will want to master.
  • think together about how students can develop their algebraic reasoning and overcome the key hurdles or difficult transitions in moving from calculation to mathematical analysis.
  • investigate how online tools can help.

There will be opportunities to share why you were drawn to a workshop with this focus, and what you would like to accomplish as we work together. Certainly there is more to discuss about algebraic reasoning than we can cover in this workshop. Above all else, we want to share a community and resources that support us as professionals in our ongoing efforts to improve our teaching and make use of new tools.

Notice the NCTM Algebra Standard for Grades 6-8. Is there anything there that surprises or confuses you? Aren't these quite common topics in middle school classrooms? And yet for many of us, representing the listed topics as algebra may be something very new.

Providing experiences that elicit algebraic thinking in the early years builds a solid foundation for understanding algebra in the more symbolic contexts encountered later. This workshop focuses on those experiences that are appropriate in the middle grades.

The workshop is divided into six week-long units. You will have flexibility within each week but the design of the workshop and the value for all of the participants depends on beginning and completing the activities during the assigned week and the full workshop within six weeks.

Each unit will contain

  • a mathematics focus
  • software tools that contribute in some way to mathematical understanding
  • problem solving
  • reflection
  • discussion

To gain the most from the activities, we are encouraging reflection along five dimensions: mathematics, technology, teaching, learning, and assessment. We look forward to your contributions to the workshop's discussions as you consider each.

Our approach is to

  • value everyone's contributions as we all share our explorations and wonderings.
  • ask and answer questions of ourselves and others.
  • think of how this can transfer to our classrooms.

Suzanne, Steve, Jason, and Annie

© 2016 The Math Forum at Drexel, part of NSF's NSDL
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DUE-0226284. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.