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Algebra help you can take with you in a book: Dr. Math Gets You Ready for Algebra
and Dr. Math Explains Algebra

[Techniques]  [Discussions]  [Dr. Math]  [Books]  [Web Resources]

How do I help students learn algebra?

Both parents and teachers write to Teacher2Teacher asking for help in teaching algebra. One writer put it like this:
"I would like to know if you could tell me how to make algebra easier and more fun."
Another letter suggests that algebra is a course that many students will need to complete in order to meet graduation requirements:
"In Florida, the class of 2001 is the first to graduate with an Algebra I requirement. We offer 4 ways for the requirement to be met in the high school."
Teacher2Teacher Associates and contributors in the Teachers' Lounge discussions have responded to these many letters suggesting a variety of methods. Somewhere in the suggestions will be ideas to help your student learn algebra.

T2T discussions about algebra techniques:

Activity to show (a+b)^2 = (a+b)(a+b)
I was wondering if there is any kind of activity to show that (a + b)^2 = (a + b) (a + b)? If you have any suggestions, please let me know. This activity is intended for a high school algebra class....view discussion>>

Algebra tiles
Can you help me to know how can I can use algebra tiles in teaching factoring trinomials?...view discussion>>

Dividing by zero
I am a first year Algebra Instructor. One of my students told me since division by zero is undefined the answer is part of the null set....view discussion>>

In your opinion, which would be the best way to teach factoring?...view discussion>>

Factoring out -1 in algebraic expressions
Could you give some suggestions in showing a Basic Algebra class how to "see" when you need to factor out -1 so they can simplify algebraic fractions? you could use (2 - c)/(c - 2) as an example....view discussion>>

Factoring quadratics using a box divided in fourths
I am a math teacher. My son is learning algebra, and his teacher uses a box divided into fourths to teach factoring. I have no idea how to do this, so I can not help my son use his teacher's methods....view discussion>>

FOIL Method of multiplying polynomials
How can I introduce the basic concept of using the FOIL Method to teach multiplying of polynomials?...view discussion>>

Integers in Algebra
I am interested in activities for teaching integers. Do you have ideas for activities that involve the students....view discussion>>

Multiplying negative integers
I am seeking new ways to show why a negative times a negative equals a positive. I need concrete examples that would help my kids to "see" the rule, not just memorize it....view discussion>>

Order of operations: algebra
I need some help for teaching the concept of "order of operations," especially need some ideas of games,activities and application in real life....view discussion>>

Reason for using "m" and "b" in y = mx + b
When graphing a line, we teach the students to look for the location of the slope and y-intercept through the equation y=mx+b. Why is "m" used to represent slope and why is "b" used to represent y-intercept?...view discussion>>

Square Root
My child and I are trying to figure out the formula, procedure for finding square root and have gotten stuck. Please help....view discussion>>


T2T discussions about algebra:

Algebra for all eighth graders
We are looking for data on school districts that offer "Algebra I" to all eighth grade students....view discussion>>

Assessing readiness for algebra
Do you know where I can get my hands on a readiness test for Algebra? We know our kids quite well, so I am confident that we can make this call without a test. However, I would like to have the test as a backup with particularly problematic parents....view discussion>>

Eighth grade Algebra
I need some information on different aptitude tests that can be used for predicting success in an eighth grade algebra course (taken at the end of the 7th grade year)....view discussion>>

Homeschooling Math
Suggestions for assisting an 6th grade homeschooler in math...view discussion>>

Purpose of studying algebra
Why study algebra? What are the answers to this question that ninth grade students might find compelling?...view discussion>>

Software for Algebra and Geometry
Ideas for using software with struggling high school math students....view discussion>>


Ask Dr. Math resources:

Ask Dr. Math Middle School Archives
Archived Ask Dr. Math questions and answers appropriate for middle school students. Ask Dr. Math High School Archives
Archived Ask Dr. Math questions and answers appropriate for high school students.

Integers, Rational/Irrational Numbers - Math Forum, Ask Dr. Math FAQ
What is an integer? Are fractions rational numbers? What about .9999...? How about decimals? pi? the Golden Ratio?...more>>

Negative Times a Negative - Math Forum, Ask Dr. Math FAQ
Why does a negative times a negative equal a positive? Does this ever happen in the real world?...more>>

Order of Operations - Math Forum, Ask Dr. Math FAQ
What is the correct order of operations? Why use it? What is PEMDAS?...more>>

Square/Cube Roots without a Calculator - Math Forum, Ask Dr. Math FAQ
How do you find the square root of a number by hand? How about cube roots?...more>>

Word Problems - Math Forum, Ask Dr. Math FAQ
When I'm given a 'word problem', where do I start? A variety of approaches for tackling word problems....more>>


Books for reference:

The following books are available through Amazon.com:

Dr. Math Explains Algebra
by the Math Forum @ Drexel

Dr. Math Gets You Ready for Algebra
by the Math Forum @ Drexel

Algebra Facts: Survival Guide to Basic Algebra
by Theodore John Szymanski

Algebraic Thinking, Grades K-12: Reading from NCTM's School-Based Journals and Other Publications
by Barbara Moses (Editor)

Algebra: Tools for a Changing World
by Prentice Hall

Fostering Algebraic Thinking: A Guide for Teachers, Grades 6-10
by Mark Driscoll

Elementary Algebra
by Harold R. Jacobs


Resources on the Web:

Algebra Problem of the Week - Math Forum [requires membership to access]
Algebra problems from a variety of sources, including textbooks, math contests, NCTM books, and puzzle books, and real-life situations, designed to reflect different levels of difficulty. The goal is to challenge students with non-routine problems and encourage them to put their solutions into words. Different types of problems are used to reach a diverse group of algebra students....more>>

Algebra (Seeing is Believing) - De Silva, D'Andreti; ThinkQuest 1997
An algebra tutorial, comprising: mathematical numbers; real number system; numerical representations in algebra (algebraic expressions); algebraic techniques (factoring); quadratic equations and inequalities; graphing (coordinate systems, conic sections,...more>>

K-12 Internet Algebra Resources - Math Forum
Classroom materials, algebra software online, Internet projects, and discussion groups where mathematicians, teachers, and students trade ideas about algebra. ...more>>

Math Education Page: Algebra by Henri Picciotto
Math education articles by the author, with an emphasis on algebra. ...more>>

Math Forum Internet Mathematics Library: Algebra
Algebra resources that have been collected, organized, cataloged and annotated from diverse sources.

Middle School Algebra Links [requires membership to access]
Links to units, activities and lessons that emphasize algebraic thought and address the Standards for grades 6, 7 and 8.

Operations with Integers - Suzanne Alejandre
A lesson using Math Stars, Macintosh shareware by Roger Clary.

Pre-Algebra Problem of the Week - Math Forum
A project designed to challenge middle school students with non-routine problems and to encourage them to verbalize their solutions. Submissions are read and assessed, and comments are returned to the students. ...more>>

Purplemath - Your Algebra Resource - Elizabeth Stapel
Algebra modules provide lessons, practical tips, hints, worked examples, and point out common mistakes in basic triangle length (trigonometry) values, calculators (what model to buy), canceling units, domain and range, exponents, factoring quadratics,...more>>

Three Skills For Algebra (Pattern Based Reason) - Alan Selby
This book describes three skills key to the algebraic way of writing and thinking, offering a first image of mathematics beyond arithmetic. It also describes the first elements of logic or rule-based reason, needed in all disciplines for writing or a ...more>>

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