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Discussion: All Topics for Patterns and sequences
Topic: PEMDAS


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Subject:   RE: PEMDAS
Author: gemlim
Date: Nov 25 2007
On Nov 20 2007, bsnbns1991 wrote:
> On Nov 19 2007, VEJ wrote:
> If you are able to provide a few
> examples of how this strategy does
> not apply, I would like to
> pass it on.  I work with elementary
> teachers and have not gotten
> into the practice of providing the
> acronym, but I have heard of
> many middle school teachers using this.

As a middle school
> teacher, I'd love to have a scholarly reference regarding getting
> rid of PEMDAS. The floor is yours!

I teach the 9th graders and before we go deeper into Algebra, I need to
revisit/review concepts learned before and one of those is simplifying
mathematical expressions involving multiple operations (hence the order of
operation).  Most of my students remember PEMDAS but unsure of what it is. For 2
years in a row I've tried this method of simplifying expressions: I tell my
students that + and - are separators, hence they will be performed last in the
operation.  They will circle any pluses or minuses in the problem. Next, they
will simplify all the operations in between working from left to right.  It
works the same way if there are grouping symbols, (), they have to circle + and
- if they see one, however I stress to them that the grouping symbols must be
simplified first.  For example: 10 + 3(24 - 4 x 2)- 20/5.  My students will
circle all the + and -, then they will start simplifying the operations in
between the "separators", coming up with the next step of 10 + 3(24 - 8)-4.
Next on the step would be: 10 + 3(16) - 4, and the rest follows. This method
also eliminates the common mistake of adding 10 & 3 in the process.  The
students will keep on circling + & - until they get to the last step.

Try it and see if this works for you and your students.  Have fun!

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