Do Your Students Understand Algebraic Thinking?

Have you ever heard a student ask, “When will I ever use algebra?” Children cannot understand how to think algebraically if the subject is only taught as an abstract concept without practical examples. The Missing Part in Most Math Instruction – How to Think Algebraically identifies how to effectively teach algebra so that it is a subject that is approachable, relatable, and beneficial to your students in the long run.

Algebraic Thought Process

The key to successfully teaching students how to think algebraically is by discovering what motivates them to learn. Some students prefer to stay within their comfort zone of what they understand. As a teacher, you can help inspire and challenge your students so they’re eager to comprehend algebraic thinking techniques.

Ed Zaccaro has been teaching math and working with gifted students for over 30 years. During this time, he mentioned how he was shocked “to have some kids that would confine themselves to an intellectual box where everything’s easy.” He stresses the importance of helping students develop an understanding of algebraic thinking.

You should avoid teaching complex equations without relevant explanations. Students are more receptive to learning when the subject matter is practical and relatable. Although algebraic thinking may not come naturally to everyone, you can help your students to learn by making real-life connections.

Real-Life Algebra

Imagine trying to understand a subject that you cannot relate to. How would that make you feel? This is what students who do not understand algebraic thinking are experiencing when they attempt to learn it without having a solid foundation or connection to it.

Zaccaro explains some real-life examples that you can use to teach algebraic thinking in your classroom. Some of these examples include selling jewelry, setting prices and shipping costs at a store, and determining whether or not a specific piece of furniture will fit in your home. When students can visualize the thought process behind algebraic thinking, they are much more likely to learn.

Another relatable example is given for adults approaching retirement age. Zaccaro emphasizes the importance of algebraic thinking when it comes time to decide when to take social security. All of the examples provided in this course are a great way to help students consider their future decisions as it relates to algebraic thinking.

Algebraic Applications

As with learning any new skill in life, the more frequently you practice, the better you will become. Students can successfully be taught to think algebraically if they are willing to put in the effort and dedicate time to learn. You have the power to make learning more enjoyable for them when your instruction is relevant and engaging.

Remember, when you make an effort to understand the interests of your students, you’ll be more likely to provide relatable learning experiences and connect with them. Build a foundation for future academic and lifelong success by teaching students how to think algebraically.

Interested in learning more about how you can teach algebraic thinking? Explore the course demo on The Missing Part in Most Math Instruction – How to Think Algebraically today!

Course Spotlight

This package includes our PD to Practice System, Gifted, and Essentials for Teaching bundles, as well as an ever-growing collection of online professional learning courses presented by recognized authors, trainers, and practitioners. This bundle gives you the ability to train and support all of your teachers while allowing each teacher to personalize their professional learning plan to meet their unique needs, all without missing a day of instruction.

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