TI-AIE: Conjecturing and generalising in mathematics: introducing algebra

What this unit is about

Algebra is the topic where many students start to say that mathematics is difficult. This may be for many reasons; young students like things to be straightforward and concrete, whereas algebra is about abstract symbols standing for variables and constants. However, many difficulties are caused because the differences between the way that students work with numbers and the way that they work in algebra are not addressed, and so students start off feeling confused.

In this unit you will think about how to introduce algebra and what differences need to be explored to help students think algebraically without feeling lost and confused. The activities ask the students to work with algebraic ideas whilst safely using numbers. They will build on their thinking towards conjecturing and generalising, two important algebraic ideas.

Two of the activities use cards in different ways to encourage the students to explore algebraic ideas and to extend those ideas using their own thinking. Working out whether something they are presented with is always true, sometimes true, or false, is a further theme of the activities.

What you can learn in this unit