# Algebra

## Math Pathways & Pitfalls Algebra Readiness: Lessons and Teaching Guide, Grades 7–8

The *Math Pathways & Pitfalls Algebra Readiness *mathematics intervention is intended to help students tackle stubborn pitfalls head-on and transform those pitfalls into pathways for learning key standards. It offers an entire year’s worth of lessons that focus on the critical areas of algebra readiness, using the same research-backed principles that informed the original series.

The Math Pathways & Pitfalls K-8 curriculum was designed with built-in support for teachers, alignment to the Common Core State Standards and Mathematical Practices. The curriculum can be flexibly used as an intervention, as part of the core curriculum, or in after-school or small group settings.

## Backward Transfer Influences from Quadratic Functions Instruction on Students’ Prior Ways of Covariational Reasoning about Linear Functions

The study reported in this article examined the ways in which new mathematics learning influences students’ prior ways of reasoning. We conceptualize this kind of influence as a form of transfer of learning called *backward transfer*. The focus of our study was on students’ covariational reasoning about linear functions before and after they participated in a multi-lesson instructional unit on quadratic functions. The subjects were 57 students from two authentic algebra classrooms at two local high schools.

The study reported in this article examined the ways in which new mathematics learning influences students’ prior ways of reasoning. Authors conceptualize this kind of influence as a form of transfer of learning called *backward transfer*. The focus of the study was on students’ covariational reasoning about linear functions before and after they participated in a multi-lesson instructional unit on quadratic functions.

## Cognitive Instructional Principles in Elementary Mathematics Classrooms: A Case of Teaching Inverse Relations

Instructional principles gleaned from cognitive science play a critical role in improving classroom teaching. This study examines how three cognitive instructional principles including worked examples, representations, and deep questions are used in eight experienced elementary teachers’ early algebra lessons in the U.S. Based on the analysis of 32 videotaped lessons of inverse relations, we found that most teachers spent sufficient class time on worked examples; however, some lessons included repetitive examples that also included irrelevant practice problems.

This study examines how three cognitive instructional principles including worked examples, representations, and deep questions are used in eight experienced elementary teachers’ early algebra lessons in the U.S.

## Understanding of the Properties of Operations: A Cross-Cultural Analysis

This study examines how sampled Chinese and U.S. third and fourth grade students (NChina=167,NUS=97) understand the commutative, associative, and distributive properties.

## Teaching Early Algebra through Example-based Problem Solving: Insights from Chinese and U.S. Elementary Classrooms

Drawing on rich classroom observations of educators teaching in China and the U.S., this book details an innovative and effective approach to teaching algebra at the elementary level, namely, "teaching through example-based problem solving" (TEPS).

Drawing on rich classroom observations of educators teaching in China and the U.S., this book details an innovative and effective approach to teaching algebra at the elementary level, namely, "teaching through example-based problem solving" (TEPS).

## The Role of Balance Scales in Supporting Productive Thinking about Equations Among Diverse Learners

This research focuses on ways in which balance scales mediate students’ relational understandings of the equal sign. Participants included 21 Kindergarten–Grade 2 students who took part in an early algebra classroom intervention focused in part on developing a relational understanding of the equal sign through the use of balance scales. Students participated in pre-, mid- and post-intervention interviews in which they were asked to evaluate true-false equations and solve open number sentences. Students often worked with balance scales while solving these tasks.

This research focuses on ways in which balance scales mediate students’ relational understandings of the equal sign.

## Does Early Algebra Matter? The Effectiveness of an Early Algebra Intervention in Grades 3 to 5

A cluster randomized trial design was used to examine the effectiveness of a Grades 3 to 5 early algebra intervention with a diverse student population. Forty-six schools in three school districts participated. Students in treatment schools were taught the intervention by classroom teachers during regular mathematics instruction. Students in control schools received only regular mathematics instruction.

A cluster randomized trial design was used to examine the effectiveness of a Grades 3 to 5 early algebra intervention with a diverse student population.

## “Approximate” Multiplicative Relationships between Quantitative Unknowns

Three 18-session design experiments were conducted, each with 6–9 7th and 8th grade students, to investigate relationships between students’ rational number knowledge and algebraic reasoning. Students were to represent in drawings and equations two multiplicatively related unknown heights (e.g., one was 5 times another). Twelve of the 22 participating students operated with the second multiplicative concept, which meant they viewed known quantities as units of units, or two-levels-of-units structures, but not as three-levels-of-units structures.

Three 18-session design experiments were conducted, each with 6–9 7th and 8th grade students, to investigate relationships between students’ rational number knowledge and algebraic reasoning. Implications for teaching are explored in this article.

## Tiering Instruction for Middle School Students

Differentiating instruction (DI) is a pedagogical approach to managing classroom diversity in which teachers proactively adapt curricula, teaching methods, and products of learning to address individual students' needs in an effort to maximize learning for all (Tomlinson, 2005). DI is rooted in formative assessment, positions teachers and students together as learners, and involves providing choices and different pathways for students. Although teachers can differentiate for many characteristics of students, we differentiate for students' diverse ways of thinking.

In this article, we describe an example of differentiating instruction (DI) involving middle school students from a five-year project funded by the National Science Foundation.