Q&A #4990

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Teaching algebra in middle school

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From: Bill Worley <bworl@msn.com>
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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