The subject of algebra has always been important in American secondary mathematics education. However, algebra at the elementary level has been garnering increasing attention and importance over the past 15 years. There is consequently a dire need for ideas, suggestions and models for how best to achieve pre-algebraic instruction in the elementary grades. Planting the Seeds of Algebra will empower teachers with theoretical and practical knowledge about both the content and pedagogy of such instruction, and show them the different faces of algebra as it appears in the early grades. The book will walk teachers of young children through many examples of K-6 math lessons and unpack, step by step, the hidden connections to higher algebra. After reading this book, teachers will be better equipped to reflect on their teaching, renew their thinking, and change parts of their practice in order to transform their classroom culture into one where both students and teachers are attuned to algebraic thinking, reasoning, talking, writing, and doing.

Exploration III Patterns and Functions: What's the Connection?
Exploration III. patterns and functions: what's the connection?

What humans do with the language of mathematics is to describe patterns. Mathematics is an exploratory science that seeks to understand every kind of pattern—patterns that occur in nature, patterns invented by the human mind, and even patterns created by other patterns. To grow mathematically, children must be exposed to a rich variety of patterns appropriate to their own lives through which they can see variety, regularity, and interconnections.

Lynn Arthur Steen (1990)

Photo by Monica Neagoy

Rationale for Exploration III

  • Mathematics in the science of patterns.
  • By exploring patterns, students develop the habits of mind to notice, express, and analyze regularities in the world and in their minds. In the primary grades, venturing ...
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