MATH 276 Algebraic Structures for Elementary Education Majors

MATH 276 Algebraic Structures for Elementary Education Majors

Section 001, Spring 2017

Instructor: Kevin McLeod
Office: EMS E481
Office hours: TR 4:45-5:30 PM
(or by appointment)
Phone: 229-5269
Home page:

Class schedule: TR 3:30-4:45 PM, KEN 1150

Primary Text: Craig R. Guilbault, Algebraic Structures for Elementary and Middle School Teachers: an activities-based course.
(Available on our class D2L website.)

Course description

The title of this course is “Algebraic Structures for Elementary Teachers”, and perhaps the question you are already asking yourself is, “What is the difference between `algebraic structures’ and `algebra’?” We will consider that question in our first class period, but the short answer is that `algebraic structures’ refers to ideas from number and operations, and you can think of this course as an in-depth study of those ideas. In an algebra course you might learn methods for solving different types of equations; in an algebraic structures course, you will study the deeper reasons why those methods work. In the process, you may find that those deeper reasons provide connections between parts of mathematics that seem on the surface to be very different.

Most of the material that we will cover in this course is aligned to middle grades standards in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM), which are also the current Wisconsin Academic Standards for Mathematics. You are not expected to become an expert in the standards this semester, but we will take time to look at several standards and discuss their connections with the course material.

We will run the class on a “flipped classroom” model, in which you are expected to read the relevant sections of the textbook ahead of class, and we will discuss them and work through problems and activities during class time. You will be expected to take an active role in the in-class activities and discussions. For this reason, attendance is particularly important: you will not be able to make up a missed class just by reading the textbook. Come to class ready to take part!

All class information and materials will be available on the class D2L site. There will also be a class website on my home page,, which you may (or may not) prefer, and which you can use if and when D2L is unavailable. Any relevant information about the class, such as exam dates or other announcements, will be posted on both these sites, so you should get into the habit of checking one of them on a regular basis. Homework will also be posted, so if you do have to miss a class you can still be prepared for the next one. If I find useful and relevant links during the semester, they will also be posted; if you find some yourself, please let me know. You are responsible for any information posted on the websites, so whichever one you use, please check it regularly.


Your grade for the course will be based on the following factors:

  • Class participation 20%.
  • Reading and Homework You will be assigned one or more sections of the textbook to read before each class period, and homework problems after each class. (The homework may be given out in class, but will always be posted on the class website.) I will often ask you to send me an e-mail question on the reading, and I often use those questions to help plan the class discussion. The homework problems will usually consist of exercises from the primary text, some of which will be collected and graded. 10%.
  • Midterms There will be two midterm exams, given close to the 6th and 12th weeks of the semester. (The exact dates will depend on the pace of the class, and will be announced at least one week in advance.) Each midterm exam will have both an individual and a group component, and each will be comprehensive, in the sense that it may contain material covered any time from the start of the semester to the exam date, although new material will be more heavily weighted. 20% each.
  • Individual Final Exam The final exam will also have individual and group components. Both components will be comprehensive, with all course material receiving equal weight. The individual component will be given on the last regular class day: Thursday, May 11. 15%.
  • Group Final Exam The group portion of the final exam will be given during the scheduled final exam period for the class: 12:30-2:30 PM on Friday, May 19. 15%.

You may have a make-up for one of the midterms, or any one part of the final exam, if I am convinced that you had a valid excuse for missing the original exam. The make-up must be taken within one week of the original midterm, and will be an oral exam.

Average Time Investment

The amount of time that an average student should expect to spend on this class is as follows:

  • Classroom time (face to face instruction): 45 hours
  • Time taking exams (midterm, final exam): 6 hours
  • Time for preparation and study for exams: 19 hours
  • Time completing reading and other homework assignments: 80 hours

Total number of hours: 150.

Students with disabilities

If you feel you are a student with a disability, please meet with me as early as possible in the semester for any help or accommodation you may need.

University policies

You should keep yourself informed of important dates in the University calendar.

The Secretary of the University has a page dedicated to university policies for religious observances, grade appeal procedures, military service and other matters. You should also familiarize yourself with the information on the Dean of Students Office webpage concerning proper student conduct at the university, both
academic and non-academic misconduct. You will be held responsible for
the information and policies contained at these links.

Finally, please note that I reserve the right to make changes to this syllabus in the event of a
disruption to normal classroom activities, or other needs that may arise during the semester.

Kevin Mcleod