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.

Patterns of Cubes—The Lesson (Grade 2)

Patterns of cubes—the lesson (grade 2)

Despite the grouping of “patterns” and “functions” under the rubric “Algebra” in national and state standards documents and prevailing mathematics curricula, the underlying mathematical connection between pattern and function, or between function and algebra, is not always clear. Math educator Erick Smith (2003) agrees:

The relationship among patterns, functions, and algebra is not necessarily obvious … elementary school teachers may create rich classroom experiences around patterns, yet not have a sense of how this topic ties into the ongoing mathematical development of their students, much less into the topic of functions.

He goes on to say that, similarly, middle school teachers may not have a sense of how the notion of function relates to students’ ...

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