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ERIC Number: EJ829144
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Feb-11
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0277-4232
Kiddie Algebra
Cavanagh, Sean
Education Week, v28 n21 p21-23 Feb 2009
As educators and policymakers search for ways to prepare students for the rigors of algebra, teachers in the Helena, Montana, school system are starting early by attempting to nurture students' algebraic-reasoning ability, as well as their basic number skills, in early elementary school, rather than waiting until middle or early high school. Teachers in the Helena school district began to rethink math instruction, and the connection between basic arithmetic and algebra, four years ago, when they attended an institute offered by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL), a nonprofit research and evaluation organization in Portland, Oregon. Those sessions focused on improving math instruction in the early grades, emphasizing the principles of "cognitively guided instruction," an influential approach to math teaching and professional development first developed in the 1980s by Thomas P. Carpenter and other researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A core idea of cognitively guided instruction is that young children arrive at school with a strong set of intuitive math skills in areas such as understanding numbers and problem-solving. Teachers who understand those skills, and how students' math knowledge develops, can greatly improve their instruction. Rather than emphasizing drill and procedure, cognitively guided instruction encourages teachers to nurture students' broader understanding of the relationships between numbers, patterns, and the fact that symbols can be used to represent numbers--skills essential in algebra.
Editorial Projects in Education. 6935 Arlington Road Suite 100, Bethesda, MD 20814-5233. Tel: 800-346-1834; Tel: 301-280-3100; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Montana