As a former algebra teacher I have used algebra tiles for students who are more tactile learners. This method strengthened their conceptual understanding of integers, equations, and even polynomials. However, it was usually those students who struggled with problem solving and or the application of algebraic methods to real world experiences.
As a computer science teacher and having the background knowledge of the algebraic content, I can see how programming can help students with algebraic concepts. For example, when working in the Scratch program, I incorporated the coordinate plane, zero pairs, and absolute value when programming the Sprite to move and show constant motion.