Lessons for Algebraic Thinking, Grades K–2
Manipulative materials, problem-solving investigations, games, and real-world and imaginary contexts support arithmetic learning while introducing ideas basic to algebra, including patterns, equivalence, and graphing.
This book is part of the Lessons for Algebraic Thinking®, Complete Series.
Leyani von Rotz and Marilyn Burns
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Review by Debora Southwell, a Mathematics Specialist at William Ramsay Elementary in Alexandria, Virginia. Reproduced with permission from Intersection, © Spring 2005, by ExxonMobil Corporation.
TEACH ALGEBRA?! You've got the wrong person. I’m an early childhood educator. The high school is down the road. Well, primary teachers, you better read on!
For those of us who found algebra a mystery while we were in school, and who thought, “Aaah, we're done with it forever,” welcome to the 21st century. The teaching and learning of algebraic thinking begins with 5-year-olds and continues throughout their education.
So, where do we begin as we look for materials to help us approach this heady topic called algebra? Lessons for Algebraic Thinking, Grades K–2 , by Leyani von Rotz and Marilyn Burns, is a professional book that is an excellent beginning tool. Since understanding number is a key area of primary grades’ math, the authors have not addressed teaching algebraic thinking at the expense of teaching number. Instead, they have shown how the two can be nurtured simultaneously.
In Lessons for Algebraic Thinking, K–2 , we have a book full of lessons suited to the teacher who is committed to math for all. There are 16 lessons, divided into two sections. The first comprises eight lessons that build the foundation for the second part of the book. In addition to providing a series of well-thought-out lesson plans covering four key aspects of algebraic thinking (growth patterns, equivalence, variables, and coordinate graphing), the authors lay out guidelines for using the lessons at each of the grade-levels, K–2.
All lessons include an overview, background, vocabulary, materials and time frame. In addition, some lessons end with extensions. One of the book’s strengths is that all lessons have been taught in classrooms, and within the lesson the authors have included children's dialogue, teacher talk, how the teachers observed students, and examples of student work. Some educators may find that the information needed to actually teach the lessons is difficult to get to because it is embedded in the authors’ full descriptions. But at the same time, the overall picture of how the lesson develops, along with children’s actual remarks, is invaluable. Highlighting the teacher’s questions and remarks within the text is a simple way to make the lesson user-friendly.
The book concludes with an appendix and glossary that helps teachers reconnect with algebraic terms and concepts to assist in developing teachers’ professional knowledge.
Teach algebra in the early years? Yes, and Lessons in Algebraic Thinking, K–2 is just the book to get those of us working with young ones started. And, if you are overwhelmed by the thought of teaching algebraic thinking, consider Einstein’s words: “Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics, I can assure you mine are far greater.” K–2 teachers, you can do it!
Review by Heather Taylor, Associate Editor of Connect. Reproduced with permission from Connect, © January/February 2006, by Synergy Learning.
Lessons for Algebraic Thinking, by Leyani von Rotz and Marilyn Burns, provides a comprehensive exploration of why and how we can work with the very youngest students (K–2) to create understanding and skills that will mean greater abilities and comprehension in the students’ later years. Sixteen classroom-tested lessons focus on various topics, such as repeating patterns, growth patterns, equivalency, and operations. A background section at the close of each chapter helps teachers to understand and feel comfortable with content. The appendix offers, “Mathematical Background,” explaining key ideas to algebraic thought. A glossary follows it. This outstanding resource is part of a series extending through eighth grade; it provides excellent examples of best practice in mathematics education. 280 pages.
Table of Contents
The lessons in this book introduce basic algebraic concepts to students in the primary grades.