Algebra - Can it be made interesting?

October 1, 2010   

I started teaching algebra to my Intermediate 2 class this week and also mentioned the topic of indices to my Higher class. Neither was exactly delighted by the idea.

I haven't met many people that like algebra and nearly all of them were teachers or worked in maths departments. I like algebra, I'll admit it, but teaching it can definitely be boring for the pupils. How to learn the basic skills without being bored? Putting algebra in context whilst still getting the bare bones of expanding brackets and gathering like terms across to students?

I need some applications that the class can use whilst still practicing the basics. Yet some of the class know (almost) exactly what they are doing (with the basics) and it can be a struggle to keep them attentive (ish). If they move ahead then at some point they will want to move off algebra and onto the next thing.

I think a two tier question/task/quiz type set-up is needed. All questions in context but some to cover the basics and some to test those looking to be pushed.