Resources and Tools for Elementary Math Specialists and Teachers
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Children's Understanding of Equality: A Foundation for Algebra

The authors of this 5-page article present anecdotal and research evidence that misinterpretation of the equal sign as an operator results in difficulty with the concept of equality. They describe one teacher's efforts to advance the notion that the symbol represents a relationship and several reasons why that is important for students' further mathematical development.
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Contributed by: Karen P. Falkner - Author, Linda Levi - Author, Thomas P. Carpenter - Author, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics - Publisher
This resource is included in the following PD Collection(s):
CCSS Practice Standard 6Common Core’s Mathematical Practice 6, Attend to Precision, calls for students to be clear in their reasoning, calculation, and communication through the precise use of words, symbols, units of measure, mathematical expressions, and processes. Students recognize various levels of precision and apply them appropriately; they calculate accurately and efficiently. These resources are intended to help teachers and math specialists understand the intent and scope of MP 6 and plan for successful attainment in the classroom. A companion Classroom collection, Implementing CCSS Practice Standard 6, includes resources to help teachers foster this practice with their students.
Math TopicAlgebraic Thinking, Number Sense, Basic Operations, Number Concepts, Mathematical Practices, Mathematical Processes
Grade LevelK, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Resource TypeInstructional Strategy, Reference Materials, Article

  • Additional Information
    • AudienceEducator
    • LanguageEnglish (USA)
    • Education TopicEducational research, Misconceptions, Teaching strategies
    • Interdisciplinary Connection
    • Professional DevelopmentYes
    • ContributorKaren P. Falkner - Author, Linda Levi - Author, Thomas P. Carpenter - Author, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics - Publisher
    • Publication Date1999-12
    • RightsCopyright (c) National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
    • AccessFree access
  • Standards
    • Common Core State Standards for Mathematics

      Select a standards document: