About Early Algebra
Early Algebra: an approach to
teaching and learning
Early Algebra covers many topics in mathematics,
including the four operations, but it does so in novel
ways. Consider the operation of addition. By second
grade most students are being taught to add 3 to another
number. They have probably not been asked to consider
expressions such as "n + 3", where n might refer to any
number. In using expressions to describe relations among
numbers and quantities, young learners go beyond
computational fluency and begin to develop the ability
to make mathematical generalizations using algebraic
notation.
Early algebra does not aim to increase the amount of
mathematics students must learn. Rather, it is about
teaching timehonored topics of early mathematics in
deeper, more challenging ways. Our position is that
children who become familiar with algebraic concepts and
tools from an early age and in meaningful contexts will
do better in mathematics, regardless of the criteria
used.
Early Algebra: an area of
research
Early Algebra is also an area of research. The research
from our project and others aims to clarify what works
and what does not work in an Early Algebra education. As
a result, light is shed on the issues young learners
inevitably face when they attempt to apply their present
modes of representation and reasoning to new
circumstances — while pointing out the difficulty in
reconciling their prior knowledge and experience with
new ideas and concepts being introduced in Mathematics
classes. Fruitful types of learning activities for
educators and curriculum developers are exemplified in
our research. We have seen that young learners from
typical public schools can understand algebraic
expressions and use them to describe relations among
numbers and quantities.
For more information please visit
Research,
Publications, and
Lesson Materials
