I'm currently working in a math classroom, and many of the kids in one of my classes don't have basic math skills. One of my kids had to use a calculator to solve 7 minus 4. I'm new to teaching algebra in general, so I'd like to ask about any teaching strategies or tips that anyone could give me that would help me to better teach algebra to kids who are working at this level. I really want to do all I can for them, but I'm not sure how to go about doing it.

Lots of manipulatives, lots of real-world examples. I'd use problem sets dealing with scaling recipes or calculating sales. If they're into sports, tap into game stats. It's likely that they have little to no understanding of what numbers really are; a representation of actual or imagined quantified things. There are ways to strengthen their fundamentals while still including concepts from algebra, like those brain-teasers that use fruit or some picture to represent certain numbers. Go back to basic math facts if you have to. Games like "Around the World" or Contig can make that less painful.

When we (State of Confusion SC) decided that all children were going to college and every student needed Algebra- Pre-Calculas we missed the boat. When I first started teaching general math 1-3 it covered everything from multiplication-division (long division w/remainders), fractions, solving problems (algebra) ,some geometry, measurements, decimals (metric system), insurance, interest, checkbook balancing, loans, and trigonometry. It was comprehensive and actually produced graduates who were good decision makers. Now we have to TRY to relate to the real world from the number world and this is even more work. All because of a test and the FALSEHOOD that all children are going to college. Do not try to explain the facts, their mind is made up. There is no General Track in our HSs, only General students in College tracks who are NOT being served and are ill-prepared for post HS life. They are marks for fast talkers and promises that sound good, but are totally impossible in practice. It only costs you $99 or just six easy weekly payments of $24.99, such a deal.

I think a number line would really help, maybe do a lot of geometry based problems. After all, algebra is an abstraction of geometry! The Greeks actually had a handle on even advanced geometry before trying to utilize algebra. Stick to applied stuff for sure, though. That would be my recommendation.