Order of Operations Terms vs. PEMDAS

This recent year after having taught PEMDAS as we all know it I attend and presented at the NW Math conference in Portland, Oregon. Well I got to attend some of my favorite sessions with a presenter who strongly use manipulatives fluently and effectively,

The presenter brought up the fact that PEMDAS leads to the demise of middle school teachers with students doing it just how it says ignoring the left to right rule with multiplication and division and addition and subtraction. She suggested HS teachers would love it if we taught terms.

As the 6th graders entered for this unit some of them knew PEMDAS prior. It quickly became that I didn't like that and preferred grouping symbols, exponents, and terms AND of course terms are separated by addition and subtraction symbols. To probably no surprise there was a far lower amount of mistakes without introducing them to the left to right model. In fact the students who knew PEMDAS were the ones making the errors.

So for now on I will be teaching Grouping  Symbols, Exponents, and Terms.  High School teachers rejoice!

Now for my despise my favorite Order of Operations videos, songs, and games all use PEMDAS so now it is just figuring out how to integrate my favorites with the HS models that eliminate the left to right error.


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