Q&A #4990

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Teaching algebra in middle school

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From: Bill Worley

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2006060613:34:13
Subject: Re: Re: best way to teach algebra

Wow. I think this is a rather disingenuous response to a discussion on Algebra in the middle school grades. "Algebraic thinking" and rigorous instruction in the fundamentals of Algebra are NOT the same thing. Middle and High School math teachers can only PRAY that some groundwork on patterns and "algebraic thinking" are being laid in the elementary years. But the rigorous study of Algebra as a stand alone course is not satisfied by simply being familiar with patterns and being able to figure out how much is in my hand if adding 5 creates a sum of 12. My experience has been that clearly there are students at the 13-14 year old age who have the ability mathematically to handle a straightforward approach to algebraic concepts successfully. But I have also experienced 15 and 16 year old students who continue to be mystified by variables, slopes, and equations for linear relations. The question being asked is not only valid, but incredibly important in a day and age when more and more is being asked and expected of schools. Should 7th graders be encouraged to take Algebra 1 formally? It's a tough question to answer, and poking jabs at educators in general is no way to answer the question legitimately.

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