Tag Archives: variables

The multiple meanings of letter symbols – Part 2 of x

In Part 1 of this series of posts about what makes algebra difficult, I discuss the multiple meanings of equal sign learners has deal with to make sense of the subject. With the changing meaning of equal sign and equations comes the changing meaning of the letter symbols. Teachers would oftentimes introduce algebra by telling… Read More »

What is algebra?

Didn’t we say in our algebra class that in the grades they study about numbers and so now they will be studying letters instead? Didn’t we say that in algebra we now use x instead of box (in 3 + ___ = 15, we now write 3 + x = 15)? And isn’t it that… Read More »

Develop your ‘Variable Sense’

Number sense refers to a person’s general understanding of number and operations along with the ability to use this understanding in flexible ways to make mathematical judgments and to develop useful strategies for solving complex problems (Burton, 1993; Reys, 1991). Researchers note that number sense develops gradually, and varies as a result of exploring numbers,… Read More »

Fun with ‘definitions’ in algebra

WARNING:  use the following definitions with great caution. A number phrase is a mathematical phrase which does not express a complete thought. An arithmetic expression is any grammatically sensible expression made up of numbers and (possibly) arithmetic operations (like addition, division, taking the absolute value, etc). Notice that it only has to be grammatically sensible; an undefined expression like 5/0 is… Read More »

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