Thursday, October 18, 2012


I saw @jreulbach's foldable for order of operations and just loved the idea of using the mnemonic GEMS versus using PEMDAS.

Foldable from

To me it just seemed to point out that multiply and divide are on one level of the steps and subtract and add are on the same level.  The fact that the mnemonic also has a visual shape that goes along with what your problem looks like when you show your work clearly is simply brilliant.  I used to say your work should like an upside-down pyramid, but now I can say show your GEMS!

While I loved Julie's foldable, we have a binder system that I have to follow and resources etc. need to be 3-hole punched and put into the binder section for each class.  So, I made a 2-sided resource for the students to add to their math section.  So far it seems to be catching on.  I had a student today tell me that they remembered to show their GEMS.

SIDE 1 of GEMS Resource

SIDE 2 of GEMS Resource

We'll call this a made4math even though it isn't Monday!  If I waited until Monday, it may never have been blogged!


  1. Oh! Your big gem is BEAUTIFUL! I love it! My kids now write the GEMS on their tests and check off each letter to make sure they are following the order.


  2. Hi,

    I came across your blog via David Wees, and as a fellow mathematics educator I thought you might be able to help in spreading the word about an educational TV show about math that we're putting together. "The Number Hunter" is going to do for math education what Bill Nye The Science Guy did for science education. I’d really appreciate your help in getting the word out about the project.

    I studied math education at Jacksonville University and the University of Florida. It became clear to me during my studies why we’re failing at teaching kids math. We're teaching it all wrong! Bill Nye taught kids that science is FUN. He showed them the EXPLOSIONS first and then the kids went to school to learn WHY things exploded. Kids learn about dinosaurs and amoeba and weird ocean life to make them go “wow”. But what about math? You probably remember the dreaded worksheets. Ugh.

    I’m sure you know math is much more exciting than people think. Fractal Geometry was used to create “Star Wars” backdrops, binary code was invented in Africa, The Great Pyramids and The Mona Lisa, wouldn’t exist without geometry.
    Our concept is to create an exciting, web-based TV show that’s both fun and educational.

    If you could consider posting about the project on your blog, I’d very much appreciate it. Also, if you'd be interested in link exchanging (either on The Number Hunter site, which is in development, or on which is a well-established site with 300,000 page views a month) please shoot me an email. We're also always looking for input and ideas from other math educators!

    Thanks in advance for your help,


  3. Love the Graphic! Beautiful! Maybe give the kids the blank, and let them fill in...pushing learning through the physicality of the pen!