(contributor: Rachel Jones)
How does Rachel introduce the vocabulary of algebra to her students?
- A sample of Rachel’s board notes shows how she introduced vocabulary to her students
- Samples of samples of student notebooks
From the Algebra Programme Overview, Level 5 Algebra Skills
What are Rachel’s important messages?
In no particular order, the team from our school has learned:
- What we have done is not new but it brings together a lot of ideas we’ve had for a while about how we can teach algebra.
- We feel that the New Zealand Curriculum (2007) has gone the right direction with the number and algebra strand being an umbrella over the other ones (i.e. geometry, measurement, and statistics).
- We realised that we need to introduce algebra through context (e.g., geometry, measurement, fractions) and we have achieved this with our new Year 9/10 programme.
- We come back to the skills on a regular basis and this need for revisiting skills can be seen in our new Year 9/10 programme).
- We use the correct terminology right from the beginning.
- We demonstrate rigour in setting out our working because mathematics is the language of numbers and just like English, mathematics has rules. We show our students how to set out their work vertically and this means they can only use one equals sign per line.
- We realised that we need to scaffold our students with differentiated levels of work by:
– Adding skills and knowledge to the toolbox
– Building on what students already know and revisiting those skills and concepts
– Reviewing important skills and ideas
– And extending skills and ideas
- We’ve noticed that there is no replacement for enthusiasm. If we show passion and excitement for mathematics our students can’t help but become interested too.