Students in the early secondary years frequently struggle with introductory algebra, often due to the limited preparation they have received at the primary school level. Teachers need a sound knowledge of how to help students learn algebra and how to help them make up for gaps in their background knowledge of maths. In these respects, however, teachers themselves frequently need more extensive preparation. Perhaps as a result, algebra in schools is often reduced to rules for transforming and solving equations and these rules often seem meaningless to students. The article describes a project in New Zealand designed to address this issue: to explore and create teaching approaches that help students in years 9 and 10 to develop a conceptual understanding of algebra.
The Other worlds project has provided resources to help students and teachers make use of Web 2.0 authoring tools for the creation of fiction and non-fiction in the middle years – Literacy Learning in the Middle Years.