Preface to Part II
The nine chapters in this part focus on the development of students’ algebraic thinking from the primary grades to the intermediate / middle grades. The chapters also underscore different schools of thought regarding early algebra; in particular, the chapters provide rich portrayals of students’ algebraic thinking as it develops within primarily arithmetic contexts (such as generalizing about arithmetic computations) as well as within primarily algebraic contexts (such as reasoning about functional relationships). As a collection, the chapters in this part present a variety of perspectives, yet they also present a common message: Students are quite capable of learning to reason algebraically in the early grades. The part closes with a commentary regarding students’ algebraic thinking that considers issues that emerge when looking across the nine part chapters.