Developing Algebraic Thinking:
A Journey from Preschool to High School
Why Algebraic Thinking?
Algebra must be seen as more than a course that is offered at middle and high school. It is a way of thinking and reasoning about relationships that can begin as early as preschool and grow in complexity and sophistication through high school.
As early as prekindergarten, students can begin to recognize, compare, and analyze patterns as sequences of sounds, shapes, or numbers. As students move through the grades, they describe, extend, and make generalizations about geometric and numeric patterns using tables, graphs, words, and, ultimately, symbolic rules. In this way, the work done in the early grades lays a foundation for later work with symbols and algebraic expressions.
By focusing on algebra across the grades, we will ensure that students develop the skills and ways of thinking and reasoning needed for success in high school and beyond.
Learn Reflect Strands
The three 2004 Regional Conferences and Expositions, as well as the 2005 Annual Meeting and Exposition, featured Professional Development Focus of the Year Learn Reflect Strands.
The strands culminated with reflection sessions that allowed participants to discuss the following questions:
- How might instruction on number and operation be used to develop algebraic thinking?
- What role could multiple representations play in developing algebraic thinking at your grade level?
- What, from your perspective, is algebraic thinking?
- How are you thinking differently about your learning and teaching of algebra as a result of participating in the Learn↔Reflect sessions?