manipulatives

This article is Part II of the series ‘Algebra – a language of patterns and designs.’ The approach is based on the perception of algebra as a generalisation of relationships.

In Part I, we introduced the ideas of variable, constant, term and expression via numerical patterns. Various operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication) involving terms and expressions were also studied.

The late Shri P. K. Srinivasan had developed an approach to the teaching of algebra titled ‘Algebra – a language of patterns and designs’. I have used it for several years at the Class 6 level and found it to be very useful in making a smooth introduction to algebra, to the idea and usage of concepts such as variable and constant, to performing operations involving terms and expressions. This approach steadily progresses from studying numerical patterns to line and 2-D designs, finally leading to indices and identities.

Here are some questions which arise while teaching Multiplication: Should children memorize the multiplication tables? Is it enough if one only teaches the procedure of multiplication? Perhaps answers to these questions can be found if we reflect on the importance given to the construction of knowledge. If we see that children must understand how facts and procedures are derived, and how concepts can be visualized, then our approach will be dictated by that understanding. 

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