Resources and Tools for Elementary Math Specialists and Teachers
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The Meaning of the Equals Sign: 2.5

This webpage from the state of Victoria, Australia, discusses the importance of students understanding the meaning of the equals sign in number sentences. It illustrates common misconceptions and their causes and proposes strategies and activities that help teach and reinforce equality concepts. Downloadable game cards (pdf) and a student worksheet (doc) are available. The page includes a list of references and a link to a page defining stages and indicators in the progression of developing these concepts.
Contributed by: State of Victoria (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development), Publisher
This resource is included in the following PD Collection(s):
CCSS Practice Standard 7This collection supports teachers as they integrate Practice Standard 7 into their classroom routines. In these articles and videos, teachers will see strategies that help guide students to look for and make use of structure as they discover and understand mathematical concepts. Additional resources for immediate use in the classroom can be found in a companion classroom collection.
Math TopicAlgebraic Thinking, Number Sense, Basic Operations, Number Concepts, Mathematical Practices, Mathematical Processes
Grade Level1, 2, 3
Resource TypeActivity, Reference Materials, Article

  • Additional Information
    • AudienceEducator
    • LanguageEnglish (Australia)
    • Education TopicMisconceptions, Teaching strategies
    • Interdisciplinary Connection
    • Professional DevelopmentYes
    • ContributorState of Victoria (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development), Publisher
    • Publication Date2010-06-04
    • RightsCopyright (c) 2007 State of Victoria (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development)
    • AccessFree access
  • Standards
    • Common Core State Standards for Mathematics

      Select a standards document:

  • User Comments
    • 5
      Equally important
      By Uncle Bob on 08/21/2012 - 15:26
    • The misuses and misunderstandings of the equal sign cause many of the errors in arithmetic, and yet the use of symbol per se is rarely taught. What are the properties of equivalence that make this OK: 17 = 9 + 8, and this: 3+6+1 = 10; and yet make this wrong: 3X5 = 15+6 = 21? Some helpful activities are provided here.