PEMDAS is NOT a Word

Here is why I believe that the PEMDAS method for remembering the order of operations should NOT be used: 1.  PEMDAS is not a word.  In general, I believe that for mnemonic devices to have the greatest impact, they should be easy to remember words.  PEMDAS is not easy to remember and PEMDAS is not even a word. 2.  PEMDAS implies to students that there are six steps in the order of operations:  Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction, when in fact, there are only four steps in the order of operations.   How can we expect students to properly remember the order of operations if we are providing them with such a misleading mnemonic device? 3.  PEMDAS should not be used simply because it is the way that students want to be taught.  One student told me the other day that he was confused by the way that I was doing the order of operations simply because I...
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Pi Day Exponent Activity

This year on Pi Day I was teaching exponents, so I created an activity surrounding many of the common errors that I see many students make when working with expressions involving exponents.  I have attached the file to this post, and I would hope that people would know what to do with it, but let me explain anyway: 1.  I printed and cut out about 10 copies of the activity (I wanted to have the students work in groups of no more than 3).  I also like to have 1-2 extra copies because it has become seemingly noticeable with my classes that there are some students who like to take the activities home with them.  Honestly, if a simple game like this gets them excited enough about math that they actually want to do play math again when they get home, I'm all for it.  By the way, it worked out best for me to place the cut out pieces in...
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Math Games for Integers, Multiplication, and Combining Like Terms

I have some slightly under-prepared students semester, so I suggested to them that they should try to work on their basic skills outside of class.  However, this requires me to provide some recommended resources to them, and these are what I have discovered: Multiplication Factoris - Tetris-style game for multiplication facts. Penguin Jump - Fun Multiplication Game that can be played with up to 4 people from around the world. Dad's Worksheets - For those who just want the traditional worksheets to practice with. Combining Like Terms Combining Like Terms Quartet - This like terms game requires you to match the center term with its the appropriate like term.  Matching Game - Identify the matching terms in two columns. On-line Jeopardy Game - Distributive property, combining like terms, evaluating expressions, solving equations.  Integers and Order of Operations Arithmetic Math Man - Pac Man-style game for Order of Operations. Circle 0 Puzzle - adding positive and negative integers to sum to zero. Circle 3 Puzzle - adding positive and negative integers to sum to three. Circle 21 Puzzle - adding positive and negative...
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GCF, LCM, and Order of Operations

In my Basic Mathematics class we just finished discussing the order of operations, and students always seem to have a problem with it, especially when division comes before multiplication (Sally has always told them otherwise).  Today we discussed finding the Greatest Common Factor (GCF) and Least Common Multiple (LCM), another topic that students sometimes seem to have a problem with.  I came up with the following problem, which sparked quite a lot of discussion in the classroom.  But more than that, I think it is the type of problem that continues to reiterate the Order of Operations, and doesn't back students into the hole of forgetting what they have learned from one chapter to the next. ...
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Pre-Algebra and Algebra Resources

A few months ago I had students in my Basic College Math class create a game about fractions.  One student created "Fraction Bingo".  I decided to search the web to see if there were printable bingo sheets available.  Well, there were, along with some other activities that I found on the same website from Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.  And below is a list of a few of my favorite ones, appropriate for college-level basic math classes (organized by topic): Operations on Numbers Zero Sum Card Game  Adding Whole Numbers Tic-Tac-Toe Order of Operations "24" Fraction Bingo Fractions, Decimals, Percents Fraction/Decimal/Percent Percent Bingo Ratio Concentration Percent Tiles (HARDER) Geometry Polygon Rummy Pythagorean Triples Rummy Algebra One Step Equation Bingo What's Your Function? (Includes Exponential Functions) Statistics Mean/Median/Mode Permutations ...
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