
PreAlgebra: Patterns and
Functions
In PreAlgebra: Patterns and Functions, a fourth grade class explores
the concept of function by analyzing a sequence of shapes. Using
tiles, pictures, Tcharts, and linear graphs students try to figure
out a growth rule, or function, that allows them to make the next
member of the sequence and predict how many tiles it has.
Participants in this course:
 Examine the
development of student algebraic thought, centering on the concept
of functions.
 Use and informally
define the following terms (as applied to the study of functions):
function, unknown, variable, equation, formula, algebraic expression,
iteration, local property, and global property.
 Explain
how a function is different from its representation through a
pattern, Tchart, graph, or expression in algebraic symbols.
 Examine ways
to represent functions, including sequential patterns, Tcharts,
number recipes or expressions, coordinate graphs, and the use
of symbols for variables. How do the different ways to represent
functions help students make the conceptual leap from the particular
to the general, moving from "add four each time" to
"this function works for all the stages of this pattern"
to, finally, "functions are mathematical objects that describe
many different patterns and situations"?
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