# [IAEP] Request for Feedback and Ideas on teaching Algebra

Caryl Bigenho cbigenho at hotmail.com
Sun Apr 4 12:36:39 EDT 2010

```Right On!  Make it fun. Don't just learn the processes, understand the concepts first.
Caryl

> From: subbukk at gmail.com
> To: iaep at lists.sugarlabs.org
> Date: Sun, 4 Apr 2010 15:39:19 +0530
> CC: sthomas1 at gosargon.com
> Subject: Re: [IAEP] Request for Feedback and Ideas on teaching Algebra
>
> On Saturday 03 April 2010 11:36:17 am Steve Thomas wrote:
> > If you have any ideas for problems I can use and/or suggested lesson
> > plans/books/curricullum please let me know.
> Having helped my daughter deal with algebra last year, I can share my first-
> hand experiences of the 'confusion' that kids face with the subject. It starts
> with the name - 'algebra' - sounds like a magical incantation. Most books on
> algebra begin with notations :-(.
>
> Let me digress a bit here. I have often watched kids struggle with divisions
> dealing with zeroes:
>     _______
>   3) 6024
>
> If I ask the same kid the following questions (no pen and paper, just head
> math):
>  a) How would you split 6000 Rupees equally amongst three friends?
>  b) How would you split 24 Rupees amongst the same friends?
>  c) How much will each friend get if you distribute both 6000 and 24 Rupees
> amongst the same friends?
>
> Kids who struggle with the former have no trouble answering the latter Qs.
> Once they play this game a few times, they have no trouble solving division
> sums on paper. The rules of the game are understood intuitively. What they see
> on paper is a picture of what they carry in their head. Notation is no longer
> a barrier - 6024, 6000+24, 6000+20+4 are all the same thing in the head.
>
> Back to your question. The origins of algebra lies in the games that kids used
> to play in India with seeds (the subject continues to be known as Seed
> Arithmetic in India). A bag containing different types of seeds constitutes the
> alphabet and arithmetic gives us the rules for composition. Kids get to make
> up different riddles using the alphabet and rules. Algebra is just "Arithmetic
> for Fun".
>
> If a pile with 5 red beans and 10 yellow beans cost 20 pies and another pile
> with 20 more yellow beans cost 40 pies, how much does each bean cost?
>
> Advanced riddles make use of bricks, tiles, blocks, or rope lengths instead of
> seeds but the rules remain the same - simple arithmetic. See Julia Nishijima's
> exercise in page 13 of http://www.vpri.org/pdf/rn2007006a_olpc.pdf
>
> After a few such riddles are solved in the head, the 'reduce and balance'
> algorithm is intuitively grasped by kids. Now the notation can be introduced
> without confusion:
>
>    5r+10y = 20, 5r+10y+20y=40
>
> Introducing notation before thinking leads to all kinds of confusion.
>
> Subbu
> _______________________________________________
> IAEP -- It's An Education Project (not a laptop project!)
> IAEP at lists.sugarlabs.org
> http://lists.sugarlabs.org/listinfo/iaep

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://lists.sugarlabs.org/archive/iaep/attachments/20100404/8d892a5e/attachment.htm
```