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ERIC Number: EJ1070934
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Aug
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1073-5836
Order of Operations: The Myth and the Math
Bay-Williams, Jennifer M.; Martinie, Sherri L.
Teaching Children Mathematics, v22 n1 p20-27 Aug 2015
Many of us embrace the order and beauty in mathematics. The order of operations is an iconic mathematics topic that seems untouchable by time, reform, or mathematical discoveries. Yet, think for a moment about a commonly heard statement in teaching the order of operations: "You work from left to right." At another point in the curriculum, when working on properties of the operations, we say, "You can add numbers in any order" (commutative property). How can both of these statements be true? Preparing students to "do mathematics" means that they have an integrated understanding of rules and properties in mathematics. The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) (CCSSI 22010) introduces the order of operations in grade 3, and applies it in all later grades. This article discusses six thought-provoking issues that challenge misconceptions about the the order of operations.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A