Exploring the introduction and teaching of algebra using Lesson Study

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Brockway, Karen
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Educational Level
ISCED Level 0 Early childhood education
ISCED Level 1 Primary education
Curriculum Area
Geographical Setting
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The main aim of this research project was to improve pupil progress and attainment in algebra, boosting attainment and progress in mathematics, by exploring the best way to introduce algebra to lower-attaining students.

The participants in this development work were Camden, a Mathematics Leading Professional, two teacher-researchers from a primary school, and three Year 4 case study pupils. The methods used included videoing pre-lesson discussions, lesson observations and notes, interviews with case study pupils, photographs of children's work, and post-lesson discussions. Manipulatives such as a balance scale and Numicon were used to emphasize the meaning of the equals sign. Money was used to reinforce the meaning of the equals sign.

Findings: The main findings of the lesson study were that children had different strengths and weaknesses in different areas of mathematics, and that with the right environment and appropriate scaffolding, they were capable of solving equations which they would not normally be introduced to for at least another three years. The importance of embedding the meaning of the equals sign from early years was also highlighted.

The findings suggest that the meaning of the equals sign needs to be embedded from early years, and that parents need to be informed of this to avoid using "equals-means-answer" with their children. Differentiated questions and the use of manipulatives and resources can help lower-attaining children to solve equations they would not normally be introduced to for several years.
Keywords (free text)
mathematics , lesson study , early childhood education , primary education
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