Algebraic Thinking


Algebra is one of the key ides of school mathematics. For many pupils it can seem to be about the manipulation of symbols, without any meaning. Instead, algebra is about making sense of things. It is a language we can use to describe situations and mathematical phenoma. This session will provide insight into the nature of algebra, in addition to the pedagogy in teaching for understanding.


In this workshop we will explore how to developing Algebraic Habits of Mind. We will also investigate how to smoothing the transition to algebra through algorithmic thinking while building on number sense and number theory. This workshop will look at how we can reach a situation where pupils can confidently express generalisations about structure of numerical relationships and patterns. We will consider the nature of functions and consider the pedagogical choices associated with developing the concept of function. Further we will discuss how to develop sense of the symbols, by use of multiple representations.

Example Programme

  • 10:00   What is algebra? / What does algebraic thinking look like?
  • 11:00   Building on number relationships and pattern sniffing
  • 12:00   Proof
  • 12:30   Lunch
  • 13:00   Functional relationships
  • 14:00   Symbolic sense: Connecting representations
  • 15:00   Finish

You will leave the course with...

  • A deeper understanding of the nature of algebra
  • An undestanding of alegbraic thinking, an apprecaition of how algebra arises from number
  • Developing pedagogical approaches

This course is appropriate for...

  • Primary, Secondary and FE Teachers
  • Non Specialists
  • Newly Qualified Teachers
  • Maths Subject Leaders

Your Course Leaders

Mark McCourt

Mark is the UK's leading authority on teaching for mastery. He has trained over 2000 schools in mastery models for schooling in the UK and overseas.

A leading figure in mathematics education, Mark has led many large-scale government education initiatives, both in the UK and overseas. Mark was a Director at the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) and has also been a school leader, an Advanced Skills Teacher, a school inspector and a teacher trainer. He founded and was Chairman of the Teacher Development Trust.

Mark has extensive experience of mathematics teaching and learning across all age and ability groups, having taught students from age 3 to PhD!

Chris McGrane

Chris has 13 years of teaching experience, spread across 3 very different schools. Before becoming Mathematics Lead for La Salle in Scotland he was Principal Teacher of Maths at Hillhead High School and oversaw the design and implementation of a mastery curriculum - the first of its type in Scotland.

Chris has played a role in moving forward professional dialogue regarding mathematics education in Scotland. In addition to conference presentations he uses Twitter daily to share insight, ideas and opinion. He regularly publishes articles on his blog Recently, reflecting his interest in effective task design, Chris launched the website which shares tasks he has written and collated from colleagues.

Jonathan Hall

Jonathan has been teaching Maths in secondary schools since completing his PGCE in 2005. Before becoming a Mathematics Lead for La Salle, he was a successful head of department at Leeds City Academy for over five years and continues to work there as a Lead Practitioner of Mathematics.

Over the past decade, Jonathan has made significant contributions to the maths community by the creation of several well-known websites, most notably MathsBot, used by millions of teachers and students each year.

Jonathan has regularly presented at local and national conferences where he shares his both experiences and ideas from the classroom and the resources he creates. He is a keen Twitter user and is often posting new resources or updates to existing ones based on feedback from the maths community.

Locations and Dates:

  • Glasgow

    The High School of Glasgow (G13 1PL)

    Saturday, 5th October 2019

  • Aberdeen

    Venue TBA

    Saturday, 13th June 2020

Course Fees

£140 / £80

First Attendee / Subsequent Attendees



All Complete Mathematics members benefit from free access to courses and conferences from La Salle Education

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