Spotlight on Strategies

mnemonic devices- PEMDAS!

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The mnemonic device strategy is a strategy that helps students remember specific words that make up a concept. According to Nagel, Schumaker, and Deshler, "The verbal information promotes recall of unfamiliar information and content." By remembering the first letter of each word, or step, students can ensure they are using the correct order of operations when approaching algebra.



The video uses the mnemonic device, Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally to remember the order of operations. Can you think of a different mnemonic device to help you remember the order of operations? Create an acrostic poem in Google Docs and share your new mnemonic device with me and a classmate.


View the second order of operations video with a partner.

Pause the video clip at 0:32. One partner will solve the equation on a calculator, the other will use PEMDAS to solve on paper. Take note of your different answers and talk about why you think your answers differ. When your discussion has concluded, finish watching the video and see if what was stated in the video is similar to what you and your partner discussed.

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Calculator image retrieved from

Cerebellum, (2010). Standard Deviants Teaching Systems: Algebra: Module 01: Foundations of Algebra. [Full Video]. Available from

Los Angeles County Office of Education, (2001). TEAMS: Turn on to Algebra: Working with Equations. [Full Video]. Available from

Nagel, D. R., Schumaker, J. B., & Deshler, D. D. (1986). The FIRST-letter mnemonic

strategy. Lawrence, KS: Edge Enterprises.

PEMDAS image retrieved from