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ERIC Number: EJ1093079
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0045-0685
Thinking Visually about Algebra
Baroudi, Ziad
Australian Mathematics Teacher, v71 n1 p18-23 2015
Many introductions to algebra in high school begin with teaching students to generalise linear numerical patterns. This article argues that this approach needs to be changed so that students encounter variables in the context of modelling visual patterns so that the variables have a meaning. The article presents sample classroom activities, together with sample work from students in the author's Year 7 classroom at a Catholic school in the South East of Melbourne. It concludes that there are many ways for teachers to help students make generalisations from visual patterns. Textbooks encourage students to generate tables of values and then to deduce rules from those tables. This approach is not hard for students to grasp and can be deferred. If students are to develop multiple strategies for thinking about such problems, teachers need to help them relate formulas to visual patterns. This, in turn, will give the variables some meaning as the algebra becomes an alternative representation of a tangible situation.
Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT). GPO Box 1729, Adelaide 5001, South Australia. Tel: +61-8-8363-0288; Fax: +61-8-8362-9288; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Secondary Education; Grade 7; Junior High Schools; Middle Schools; Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A