Tes Maths ROTW: Algebraic area reasoning

This week's Tes Maths ROTW pick is resource designed to help students bridge the gap between algebra and geometry and tackle algebraic area reasoning

Craig Barton


Support your students with algebraic area reasoning using this top resource by catrionashearer

What is it?

If there is one thing that unites students across the land, it is the struggle they face when attempting to combine mathematical topics together. A classic example of this is when algebra sneaks its way into geometry. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen pupils, who are perfectly competent at simplifying expressions on one question and then calculating the area and perimeter of shapes on another, come completely unstuck when asked to do this on the same question. Confusion spreads, and precious exam marks are lost.

That is where this wonderful resource comes into play. It is all based around one of these tricky questions. However, rather than guiding students step-by-step to solve the problem, they are instead encouraged to dive deeper into different aspects of the question. Such as forming and justifying assumptions, focussing on number, tackling goal-free versions of the question and sensibly annotating.  

How can it be used?

Instead of spending 5 minutes going through how to solve a query like this, instead we get a full lesson. Each slide is essentially an activity or a discussion point. 

Perhaps this is something to be used with a class who struggle on questions like this. Or, better still, perhaps this is best used with a class before they are exposed to questions like this. That way critical elements of the reasoning and problem-solving process are introduced slowly and carefully, allowing pupils to concentrate on one thing at a time. Then, once their confidence is high and crucial connections have been made in long-term memory, it can all come together.

I love the extension section at the end, where the context changes but the maths stays the same; this is such an important feature to allow students to identify the deep structure behind the mathematics. 

Thanks so much for sharing!