# Hands-on Algebra Activities

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by v.vijeyarasa, Jun 27, 2011.

1. ### v.vijeyarasa

I am teaching introductory Algebra to a low ability Year 7 class. We are just doing the basic four operations (adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing). We've expanded brackets and covered basic substitution. I am finding they keep confusing their rules eg. a + a + a = a^3 and a x a x a = 3a^3. They are committing a variety of big errors.
Does anyone have any suggestions for building up their skills. I have used some matching card activities, many interactive whiteboard activities, worksheets, summary cards to consolidate their understanding but I'm having limited success.
I appreciate any ideas that enables these students to have fun and learn.

2. ### brookes

How about an "Always, Sometimes, Never True" activity where you give them written statements such as 2x = x^2 and they have to place them under one of the headings, justifying their answer. I think your class will be able to do this as you've said they've done some substitution, so even if their knowledge is a bit shakey they can check with examples.

3. ### Betamale

Low level year 7s are going to find the topic potentially hard to access regardless.
Learning doesnt have to be fun and it may simply be a case of rote learning rules before you can move them onto anything that requires multi tasking. They must be engaged
Have you asked them to sub in a number for 'a' and see what happens?
Initialy I dont even use letters, I simply use a box or circle they need to fill in.
Literacy and numeracy together with new rules, new games and wizzy things can be overload for many.

4. ### brookes

Good point, I hadn't registered the "low ability" statement. At my school that would mean working at L3 and below. Whilst the rest of year 7 start algebra, these students do "missing numbers" as Beta described. They don't have the concept of indices to handle the algebra you describe.

5. ### Betamale

Hi Brookes. My response was to the original rather than slating your suggestion as I hadnt seen it

6. ### brookes

(I realised so no offence taken - just enjoying the discussion!)

7. ### LiamDNew commenter

I use cuisenaire rods to teach first-time algebra. Dunno if it's any better than the alternatives but the kids don't tend to mix up a + a and a x a. We spend quite a lot time representing expressions using the rods tho'.