TITLE: Awareness of Pre-algebra concepts
AUTHOR: Lois Cullipher, Whittier Elementary, Mesa, AZ.
GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT: Appropriate for grades 3-8.
OVERVIEW: Many students are afraid of algebra because of
different reasons, but mostly because they aren't
comfortable with it. The national standards explain that
algebra will be needed in the next few years to obtain any
type of employment. In order for the students in America to
compete Internationally with Japan and other countries, they
need higher-level math taught in more comfortable and less
threatening situations.
PURPOSE: Since algebra is taught now in most junior high
classrooms strictly in the abstract mode, students take it
only if it's required and unless they plan to attend a
university, they forget most of the algebraic concepts they
were taught.
OBJECTIVE(s): As a result of this activity, the students
will:
1. Demonstrate different algebraic equations using
Borenson's HANDS-ON EQUATIONS materials.
2. Identify orally or in writing the pre-algebra concept of
finding the unknown.
3. State orally or in writing the meaning of equation.
4. Work in a cooperative group of three to solve algebraic
equations with roles assigned for (1) manipulator,(2)
recorder, and (3) checker.
RESOURCES/MATERIALS:
The Hands-On Equations Learning System
Borenson and Associates.
Box 450
Dublin, PA 18917
(215) 249-3212
ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES:
1. Ask students what algebra is and whether it is
important. Then ask the students how many of them plan to
take algebra in school.
2. Using the balance, pawns, and number cubes from the
Borenson materials, the teacher demonstrates some easy math
problems to show an equation. (ie. pawn equals 7).
3. Progressively work through the concepts as structured in
the kit, building more difficult equations for students to
solve. (ie. pawn + pawn = 6 + 4, what is the value of X or
pawn?)
4. Demonstrate on the chalkboard or overhead how students
should record their work.
5. Have volunteer students work a problem with you in front
of the class. Do this several times to make sure students
understand the manipulation, recording and checking of their
work.
6. Assign students to cooperative groups of three (high,
middle, and low) and explain their assignment. Materials are
distributed to each group--a balance mat, pawns and cubes.
Explain the roles to students and how the roles will be
assigned (ie. oldest is recorder, next to oldest--the
manipulator, and youngest--the checker or any number of
ways). Explain what you will be looking for as you walk
around to the groups with your clipboard whether you're
looking for collaborative skills, understanding of the
concept, etc.)
7. Explain the grading for the group assignment (all
students in each group get the same score--whatever their
paper is worth; if one student chooses to let his co-workers
do all the work and they get half the problems wrong, he
gets the same score as they do. etc.)
TYING IT ALL TOGETHER: After students spend 20-30 minutes
manipulating, recording, and checking their problems,
collect the papers for grades or points. Then ask students
how they feel about algebra. Conduct a low-anxiety class
discussion on the lesson and the use of the materials.
Through the discussion, hopefully, students will interact
with each other and become more aware of algebra concepts.
For the conclusion of the lesson, have students write or
tell orally what an equation is, what is an unknown, what
does balance mean, how they feel about algebra now after the
lesson, how many would feel good about taking algebra later
in school, etc.