Algebra Tiles: Learning Sequence
The following is a suggested teaching and learning sequence for using Algebra Tiles. These ideas can be used from Year 3 onwards.
We use concrete materials and manipulatives in the classroom in the lower primary years but often move away from them as students get older, giving students the impression that they are ‘babyish’ and that it is more ‘grown-up’ to manage without them. This is a misguided approach and manipulatives should be used all the way through school.
Students often experience difficulty with Algebra and the notation it employs. Algebra tiles are a manipulative that can help develop student’s understanding and confidence with algebra, at many different levels.
The tiles employ the area model of multiplication and this needs to be explored and understood if the students are to get the maximum understanding and benefit from their use. See the references at the end of the document for more detail on the area model.
This lesson sequence is not meant to replace a textbook but is an introduction to the use of algebra tiles. Use your usual textbook and classroom resources for exercises and practice.