Algebra Tiles- from counting to completing the square

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13 Responses

  1. Bill says:

    I saw you and Mr. Hearty discussing this on Twitter today before you posted. I looked forward to it and I wasn’t disappointed. Thank you for sharing this. I will be forwarding it to my Dept. members for us to discuss upon return from break.

    • Hi Bill,

      Thanks for your kind words and I’m glad you found the post useful. I hope your dept colleagues do also.

      Best wishes,


  2. Emma Mccrea says:

    I try to use visual representations of mathematical concepts as much as possible in my teaching and, as you so rightly point out, those that are hold their own in many contexts are the most powerful. Which is why I can see how these algebra tiles would be incredibly effective. I look forward to hearing how you get on with them.

    Meanwhile I often spend time exploring with students what algebraic expressions mean in terms of shape I wonder how the algebra tiles would fit with this – would there be a conflict between area and length in terms of the variables x^2 and x? Lots to ponder. Thanks for sharing

  3. Tim says:

    You would love the windows computer game I just finished! “Algebra Tile Factris”. Email me if you’d like a free teacher account to help give my new game some exposure and experience!

  4. Wendy says:

    I have bought a set of these tiles and an instruction book and have used them with one of my classes this year as part of my Masters course in Action Research. My research question is Can using concrete manipulatives help to develop relational/conceptual understanding? If you are interested I can send through my findings once I have written it all up!

  5. Jessica Barry says:

    Hi William, I have recently used these tiles to help my low ability year 9 group factorise into single brackets. It worked really well, with most able to move on to visualising what the shape would look like. I have developed a worksheet if you would like me to share it with you?

  6. Charley says:

    So simple yet brilliant – I love this as a change from teaching addition and subtraction of negative numbers on the traditional number line. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Terri Ridings says:

    I love this idea of using tiles, thank you for sharing. I plan to incorporate this into my teaching strategies now.

  8. Carly says:

    Hi William, I have read your article with great interest. I am teaching algebra to a very low ability group of 10 students and feel this would aid them greatly to visualise it. I hope you don’t mind but I have used your images to create a ‘set’ of these visual tools for each of my students. I would be happy to share this with you if you would be interested. Many Thanks

  9. Sarah says:

    I liked the idea of the square tiles and up to a point it helped me. However, I came unstuck when I couldn’t understand where you got the tiles to cancel each other out (if that makes sense). Would you please explain a little more about “cancelling”, please? Thank you.

  10. Jayne Webster (Teacher) says:

    I love using bar models and algebra tiles. I use red for +ve and blue for -ve and we call them hot and cold blocks. We have made our own tiles in our DT department. Students love them and it has opened up algebra to all students. Really love what you have written here. It summaries the use of tiles really nicely. Thank you.