When communicating mathematically, we need to make sure that what we write is read in the way it is intended. There are certain rules we need to follow in mathematics and Year 7 have been building on their current knowledge to understand what they are and why they exist. When you present someone with a single written calculation that has multiple operations, then the temptation is to work through the calculation in the same way that we would read it, from left to right. In mathematics, we blend this idea with another set of rules in order to make sure that we all interpret that calculation in the same way.
Year 7s used their understanding of the rules to perform complex calculations and experienced how they can be misinterpreted and lead to a variety of answers if used inconsistently. This built their understanding on why a set of rules is needed! Here are some of questions the students considered:
- What is the difference between PEDMAS and BIDMAS?
- When we square a number then we are just multiplying, so why do indices need to be included in our order?
- When do we need to use a set of brackets and when are they not necessary?
- What is a vinculum and how is it different from using the divide sign?