Students have trouble visualizing problems.
Using a balance or sew saw relationship has helped students conceptualize solving for the unknown. Some students were able to follow steps but sometimes forgot why and what they were solving. Functions made things even more complicated since they hold so much meaning. Programming may open students eyes to more a deeper understanding of what a function is and how it can be applied in the real world.
What worked for me was taking notes and making sure that I was writing enough examples until I was able to produce the right answer. My students find the idea of unknown variable in a two or multi-step operations, they do not always understand undoing the problem by doing the opposite operation. I think that programming helps because it can provide that visual and meta-cognitively apply the algebraic thinking into a computer that can be translated into the algebraic equations.
Having the students be accountable for all the work done in group as well as understanding what is presented,
Teachers have to activate the prior knowledge of students. Students need to see the relevance of learning the concept. I too have students that hate using manipulatives. Even I fought for some time because it wasn’t how I was taught or what I saw when I visited classrooms in my first years of teacher. I now better understand the value in using concrete examples in teaching concepts. It helps with students better understand the concept. Programming can help with this because it forces you to think and problem solve. You began to ask better questions and forces you to check your work.
As a computer science teacher I look forward to helping the Algebra teachers connect the abstract concepts of Algebra to an actual working product. I also will help the students to understand that concepts, skills and vocabulary from their algebra class cross classroom boundaries.
I’ve found that one of the most successful ways of getting students to make the connection between concrete arithmetic to abstract algebra is to present them with manipulatives. I found this early on in my teaching career when I had a student that did not know how to simplify fractions nor understood its comparison to dollar. Another technique is to use everyday life topics as an anticipatory set when introducing topics. The students have to be hooked in order hold their attention long enough to get the topic taught. Programming can help with this because computers have become the wave of the future. Many of the students are hooked the moment you put a computer in from of them versus the white board and notes. Also, the program itself forces you to think and problem solve.
This is my first year teaching Algebra within the context of computer science. I try to find real-world examples and apply them to the algebraic equation.
I often tell my students, CS is not about being right, it is about being creative and sometimes being wrong. In Math we often emphasize being right instead of being wrong and then figuring it out. Bringing CS into Algebra, or any Math class allows students to experiment and analyze their work.
Using technology in the classroom can help students succeed in math , according to Kathleen Heid, distinguished professor of mathematics education. In a recently published book chapter titled “Using Computer Algebra Systems to Develop Big Ideas in Mathematics with Connections to the Common Core Standards for Mathematics, I feel computer science belongs in algebra and math classes, because students are truly engaged and develop digital literacy skills required for the real world.