Review: This Annenberg/CPB videotape allows the viewer to see a group of classroom teachers working with children and, in a studio, commenting on their experiences with early algebra. The group is led by Monica Neagoy, a mathematics education professor from George Washington University. The participants present algebra as the study of variables and the representation of those variables in verbal, pictorial, tabular and graphical ways. Various examples of childrens approaches are shown and discussed, including interesting mathematical storytelling by children. The video is based on a public television series for elementary teachers that aired first in Massachusetts. Because this is part of a larger series, Mathematics: Whats the Big Idea? that allowed for call-ins from participating teachers, it is not as polished as some films. Both the teaching sequences and the studio comments seem candid and make todays viewer feel like a participant, too.
Other Information: Algebra: It Begins in Kindergarten is available from Annenberg/CPB, PO Box 2345, S. Burlington, VT 05407-2345. Call 800-532-7637, fax 802-846-1850, online at: http://www.learner.org.
For many adults, algebra means symbolic notation and equations. We may have done well or poorly in high school algebra, but either way, we often have no sense that those equations we manipulated had any meaning beyond what was required to pass the course. Yet, in collaborative work with teachers over the past five years, we have found that students in kindergarten through fifth grade are thinking about ideas that are at the heart of algebra. In the course of working on arithmetic, students notice regularities that might, in later years, be expressed with symbols and equations. These ideas offer opportunities for rich mathematical investigation and discussion.
What might algebra look like as it emerges in the elementary years?
What are some of the critical big ideas and strategies young children construct that might serve as important landmarks for teachers to notice, develop, and celebrate? and,
How might realistic contexts and modelsfor example, a double number line, combination charts, and the ratio tablesupport such development? Over the last three years these questions and others have been the focus of a think tank at Mathematics in the City, a national center for professional development at the City College of New York.