Divided Line

(contributor: Garry Turner)

Why is Garry motivated focus on context to teach algebra?

From the beginning of my teaching career I have noticed that one question arises again and again. My students ask me, “What is the point of this and where would I ever use this?” This has been especially true when my students begin to study algebra and their comments have prompted me to try and introduce all my units through a contextual approach. I hope to remove the question and at the same time provide motivation for my students to engage and master the concepts. What follows is my attempt to use context with algebra.

What is the Divided Line?

The Divided Line is a series of three lessons designed to introduce the formal elements of algebra in a measurement context. The lessons involve an investigation of a rectangle with perimeter 40cm.

Read more about the Divided Line on page 8 in the Algebra Families unit developed by Anthony Harridine below. Garry notes that Anthony Harridine incorporates animations in these lessons but these elements are optional.

  • Algebra Families Unit

4.041 Algebra Families Unit – Introduction to algebra including Divided Line

How does Garry use the Divided Line lessons with his students?

  • Garry’s lesson plan for the Divided Line

 4.051 Divided Line Lesson Plan

How does Garry emphasise algebra the Divided Line lessons?

I use correct vocabulary from the beginning this activity, in the same way it has been used from day one in my classroom.  My students spend one period each week in the computer lab and are assigned follow up homework tasks to practice of the key skills required for success in algebra.  Resources I use include material from free-access learning organisations such as the Khanacademy and inexpensive Web2.0 tools such as Quia.



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