Application of Algebra

14 08 2013

I was in a Year 7 class today which was was working with algebra. The teacher wrote 3a+a+b+a on the board for the students to answer.
The first student made the usual mistake of adding powers rather than terms.
My tip to help students come to grips with this, is to recall that many write $2 the way we say it ie 2$. If you let the $ sign be the pronumeral then the above problem becomes 3 dollars plus 1 dollar plus 1 dollar or 3$+ $ + $ which is obviously 5$ or 5 dollars. Students will never make errors with money so it is the obvious application to use as algebra is introduced.
Money is also an ideal application for integers. Adding and subtracting money from the bank will also be understood and hence can be used as an application of directed numbers.

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