I always consider algebra to be like learning a language. Students need to be familiar with, and confident using, the correct notation. This resource list contains activities that are designed for students to read and interpret algebraic notation, express known relations algebraically within and outside mathematics and use accurate notation, including prioritisation of operations.
Visit the secondary mathematics webpage to access all lists.
Links and Resources
This resource contains a number of activities introducing students to algebraic notation.
In pack one, Beat the Code introduces students to symbols representing numbers in the context of musical notes whilst abc and Words won’t fail me require students to match an algebraic expression with its meaning in words. Anywhere on the number line develops the link between numbers and algebraic notation using a number line.
In pack two, Algebra match asks students to match algebraic expressions requiring students to apply the correct order of operations.
This resource is designed to encourage mathematical thinking. The first few activities; Mapping jigsaws, Function Codes and Mapping machines use numbers to enable students to spot patterns. Straws and triangles links number patterns to a pictorial representation. These activities provide a good introduction to the activities Number problems and Complete the Mappings which introduce algebraic notation alongside numbers. Algebra match requires students to link statements to their equivalent algebraic expression. This resource contains many other excellent activities designed so that students link numbers with algebraic representation.
Unit 3: Constructing expressions and equations - This unit suggests helpful ways of enabling students to construct algebraic expressions, equations and formulae, starting from numerical examples and building up to algebraic examples. Beginning with informal methods to solve problems presented in word-form, the activities progress to require students to construct formulae in algebraic form for the perimeter of a rectangle and the number of matchsticks required to make a grid.
Students analyse simple number 'tricks', and explain how they work, using algebra creating their own variants of the trick to make it more impressive. Students develop an understanding of linear expressions and equations; make simple conjectures and generalisations; add expressions, ‘collecting like terms’; use the distributive law of multiplication over addition in simple situations; develop an awareness that algebra may be used to prove generalisations in number situations.
Bridging units: algebra - contains a variety of ideas and supporting materials to introduce the use of symbols in algebra. Students explore the representation of variables by letters using the idea of 'function machines', which provide a powerful image or model for future work on understanding functions and expressing generalisations.
This investigation requires students to investigate the totals in the squares shown on a stair shaped grid. Initially students investigate the relationship of the totals of a three-step stair and its position on a 10 by 10 grid before using algebra to discover a general rule which applies to any stair on the grid.
Students can extend this work by investigating further the relationship between the stair totals and other step stairs on other number grids. Printed grids or the interactive program can be used for this work.