Teaching mathematics
Teaching mathematics

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Teaching mathematics

5 Summary of Week 4

In Week 4 you met the idea that algebra is more than simply using letters for numbers. Algebraic thinking involves an appreciation of structure and generality. It allows us to work with unknown quantities as if they were numbers, using words or symbols to represent those numbers. You have seen how algebraic thinking can be supported by the progression in the use of concrete, pictorial and abstract representations.

You should now be able to:

  • describe algebraic expressions and algebraic terms
  • support learners to move between working with numbers and working with symbols
  • deal carefully with the equals sign and be aware that it is often used to mean ‘makes the answer of’ but that in algebra it has the meaning of equivalence (i.e. both expressions on the right and left of the equal sign have the same value).

Next week you will build on what you learned in week four to begin to think about functional reasoning and specifically how unknown quantities can vary.

You are now halfway through the course. The Open University would really appreciate your feedback and suggestions for future improvement in our optional end-of-course survey [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , which you will also have an opportunity to complete at the end of Week 8. Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.

You can now go to Week 5.

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