What do the standards
say about Algebra?
"By viewing algebra as a strand in the curriculum from prekindergarten on, teachers can help students build a solid foundation of understanding and experience as a preparation for more-sophisticated work in algebra in the middle grades and high school."
(NCTM, 2000, p. 37).
The Common Core State Standards Progressions are a collection of documents that outline the specific “what” and “when” of teaching mathematical concepts. Woven throughout the K-12 document are opportunities for learning algebraic concepts and teachers need to be taking advantage of these opportunities in order to position all students for success with mathematical concepts and generalized problem solving.
Having a deep understanding of algebraic concepts is important for all students -even if they are not entering a field that requires calculus- as it will help students better look for, understand and explain relationships in the world around them.
One major highlight from the progression of understanding of algebra is the emphasis of the importance of expanding the definition of the equals sign from merely operational to that of relational. This deeper understanding will help students realize that "one side of the equation must be the same in value as the other side" and will lead to an understanding of relationships between numbers instead of simply looking at an equation as a problem needing to be solved.
This document also highlights the fact that students have a very limited understanding of a variable and that this should be developed and enhanced from year to year.
(For more information about expanding the definition of a variable, see my blog post.)
-Read these documents for yourself by clicking on the links below-
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2000). Principles and standards for school mathematics.NCTM.