Don't Forget To Teach This in Middle School Math - Make Sense of Math

# Don't Forget To Teach This in Middle School Math

My Teaching Mistake
About two years into teaching middle school math, I realized a HUGE mistake I had been making.  I wasn't teaching something that was very important.  I never thought to teach this topic, it wasn't written in the curriculum.  However, I noticed this was a problem by the questions I started receiving from students while teaching. I realized I needed to take a day or two and teach this.  To me, it was just something I knew and picked up, but I realized not everyone picks it up the same way.  This topic is parentheses notation.  Yes, I explained that parentheses also meant multiplication, but that's about as far as I went.

It Can Be So Confusing
Parentheses notation can actually be very complex, and many math teachers likely don't realize the confusion this can cause for students.  For example, comparing the two equations 6(-2) and (6)-2.  SO many similarities between the two expressions, yet so different in meaning.  Or are they different?  What exactly am I trying to say in the second expression?  Six take away two, or the product of 6 and -2, and what does it depend on?  This can be SO CONFUSING for some students.  Other students will just know, and they may not even know how they know, but they will just get it, others need parentheses notation taught clearly. Take the time to teach parentheses notation, you do not need to spend a whole unit on it, but at least spend a day.  This will help students in the long run.  I made a "Preventing Parentheses Pitfalls" resource to teach this very subject.  I have decided to make it FREE to all fellow math teachers in hopes that they will take the time to teach this topic.  Grab it in my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY