Q&A #19470

Algebraic thinking in grade 5

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From: Claire (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Apr 01, 2008 at 23:34:54
Subject: Re: Algebraic thinking in grade 5

Hi, Arleen -- Thanks for writing to T2T. My best recommendation is to read what the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) says in their Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. If your school does not have a copy, you can get free 120-day access to it online at http://standards.nctm.org/ Go to the Algebra Standard for Grades 3-5 (pp 158-163 in the book version). NCTM has an excellent book in their Navigations series on teaching algebra in grades 3-5. It has some good general discussion of the topic and rationale for the teacher as well as specific activities you can use with your class. When we talk about teaching algebra in the elementary grades, we don't mean manipulating equations with variables, as is taught in a high school algebra class. It has more to do with patterns and thinking about relationships. Are you familiar with function (in/out) machines? The best way to start is with a word problem that gives students a context for algebraic thinking and a way to judge whether their results make sense. You can get a free 21-day trial account to our Problems of the Week. http://mathforum.org/products/trial.html In the Math Fundamentals Library under Algebraic Reasoning, there are problems such as Eating Grapes, Growing Worms, Common Cents, Pocket Change, and Sharing Birthdays, all of which develop algebraic thinking. I hope this is helpful. Please write again if you have more questions. -Claire, for the T2T service

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