Q&A #4990

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Teaching algebra in middle school

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From: Jasmine

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2007102206:53:06
Subject: Re:teaching maths

Dear sir\madame

Iam a science and math train teacher who interest in teaching algebra
at middle school.I want some sample lesson activity in algebra.I have
two email adress that you can use.One in s11016677@student.usp.ac.fj
and the other one is s11016677@yahoo.com.au
I thank you in advance for your cooperation and support and i look
forward to your reply soon.

Dear Boaz Nixon, 

I am a middle school co-ordinator at a local school in Australia and
also am a mathematics teacher for year 7 and year 8 students. I have
begun studying algebra with my year 7 students after they have grasped
essentials such as percentages, integers, etc. I prefer teaching my
year 7 students, who have begun learning the concepts of algebra by
involving them in interactive activities and games which get them
involved and enthusiastic about it, since it is often considered a
complicated subject. 

I began with using plastic cups and assigning a variable for it such
as d. Using counters or small cubes these are the constants that you
add. If say for example the expression is d + 2, you use the plastic
cup and get 2 counters and put it beside the cup. However, if the
expression is 2d + 3, you use 2 cups and 3 counters beside it. Yet, if
you put a value for d such as d = 4, you put 4 counters or cubes in
the plastic cup. I feel that this was a hands-on, motivative approach
to algebra, especially since year 7 students are simply beginners at
algebra, often not introduced to it yet or have just been introduced
to it. From there, you can further expand the type of information you
teach your students, gradually getting them to learn about terms,
variables, coefficients through these activities. 

I feel that even the most incompetent student is able to grasp the
concept easily through games like this. Games like these are suitable
for students of different aptitudes, however, if some students are
quick learners it is helpful to proceed to more challenging
activities. This could include programs such as using Maths300 to
explain various algebraic concepts. This program is a great resource
and my students enjoy it to a great extent. 

It really depends on which year or grade students you are teaching.
Middle school is generally from year 7 - 9 and there are different
approaches. But, I remember to maintain a positive attitude to
mathematics and aim to make it a fun, interactive, enjoyable subject
and rid of the commonly negative connotation mathematics evokes when
students hear the word. 

Hope you take my advice and I hope I was of assistance, 

Jasmine Liu 

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