Early Algebra: What Children Can Do and Why It Matters for Mathematics Education

Presented By: Maria Blanton, Professor of Mathematics Education, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Held on Monday, September 13, 2010

Abstract: Teaching and learning algebra has undergone a critical transformation in the US over the last several decades. Part of that transformation has involved the integration of algebra in the elementary grades. In this presentation, I discuss what we currently understand about young children’s development of algebra understanding in the specific domain of functions and elementary teachers’ capacity to foster children’s understanding of these ideas. I situate this discussion in an historical context that underscores research-based contemporary views on the kinds of mathematics young children need and the critical role algebra plays in this.

Bio: Maria Blanton is Professor in the STEM Department at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Senior Research Scientist at the Kaput Center for Research and Innovation in STEM Education. Her early algebra research has focused on children’s understanding of functions and developing teacher practice that fosters algebraic thinking. Blanton is currently PI on the NSF project Developing Algebra Ready Students for Middle Grades and is co-editor (with J. Kaput and D. Carraher) of the research volume Algebra in the Early Grades (2008) and author of Algebra and the Elementary Classroom: Transforming Thinking, Transforming Practice (2008).

Video of Lecture:

Maria Blanton STEM640