Ok, I hear about this Exploring the MathTwitterBlogosphere or MTBos. I think, “Hey, what have I got to lose?” (which is a rather negative thought… few of which I like to have).

So, now I have been asked to post the *one thing* that happens in my classroom that makes it distinctly my own.

Aunt SALLY. Yes, she visits. Once a year, perhaps on Halloween, and perhaps prior to a state testing day. I disappear as she comes into class in all her glory: her loving southern accent, her neon striped rainbow mu-mu, hair in curlers, (getting ready for the big night), with jewelry from the Dollar store (which of course was sent the authentic jewels at a discounted price), slippers, and her priceless glasses as well. She shares the importance of order in all that is good and mathematical. She shares the trials of raising her son, Billy Ra in a letter that she shares with her students explaining that her husband has been very busy working over at the cemeter, and how well he’s done with so many people under him, and that she was to send dear Billy Ra 10 dollars, but she had sealed the envelope already. She discusses the delicious meals from a menu at her favorite restaurant, the Roadkill Cafe, and entices students to try her Roadkill Helper’s “Macaroni and Sleeze Sauce” . At last she shares the “stage” with students as they demonstrate their solutions to math problems involving Order of Operations, while all the while asking students to “Please Excuse (My) Dear Aunt Sally”

Now, I realize that Aunt SALLY is not the savior of our Oder of Operations methodology. She’s here to make math more interesting, to give the kids something they can relate to (It’s amazing how many Aunt Sallys my students have). We discuss grouping methods, doing multiplying prior to division and addition prior to subtraction depending on how we read the situation. I love thinking that there’s more to math…

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My mentor teacher during my first-year internship talked about dolling herself up once a year as Aunt Sally.

My current school, though, has moved away from PEMDAS and to “GEMA” which is more mathematically true, and I let the students create their own acronyms. G = grouping symbols (since square roots and absolute values also have to be dealt with in the first step), multiplication and division happen in the same step (since division can be rewritten as multiplication of the reciprocal), and addition/subtraction also happen in one step, left to right (addition can be rewritten as addition of the opposite). Teaching it this way really helps our students when they get to inverse operations. This hits early in Algebra 1: solving for variables. It’s all over Algebra 2 and beyond, too.

It’s not to take away from Aunt Sally – she’s quaint and memorable. But do be careful to not treat mult/div (or add/subt) separately.

I’m bookmarking your blog and look forward to the rest of the 8-week challenge and beyond!

I hadn’t seen the “GEMA” acronym, but I like that too. It could also lend itself to a humorous impression of a goofy ole granny or “G-ma”. I agree, too how kids need to see those correlations btwn the inverses. Thanks for my first blogger’s reply.

I love this! I think your students are going to remember PEMDAS so much more distinctly because of the memory of “Aunt Sally”! I teach PEMDAS and BEDMAS both. BEDMAS is found in many of the British/Australian books (brackets, exponents, division, multiplication, addition, subtraction). By teaching both I think it helps students realize that multiplication doesn’t automatically come before division (and hopefully that is carried over to addition and subtraction as well.

Please, PLEASE tell me you saw the free Aunt Sally magnets at one of the vendor booths!!!! Also, your love for math and our students, and FUN is inspiring. Love ya Mardalee!!!!!!

No, I missed them! 😦 Please excuse me!