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We're going back to basics today with a Math Journey covering the three broad categories of symbols. I've found this concept very handy when introducing Algebra to middle school students. So let's go! Math is a language, and I find it often helps to think of it as such right from the beginning. Just as there are different parts of speech in a language, so there are different 'parts of speech' in math. Where a spoken language includes parts of speech such as nouns, verbs, and adjectives, math has three major types of symbols: constants, operators, and variables. Let's go over each one in detail. Constants These would be the equivalent of your nouns. A Constant is a number – it has a single, discrete place on the number line. Even if the number itself is ugly – a non-terminating decimal, for example – it still does exist in a specific spot somewhere on the number line. In addition to the obvious constants, math frequently uses what I refer to as 'special constants'... read more

One of the common challenges for many Algebra students is forgetting important concepts from Pre-Algebra. So many students complain that they never fully learned fractions, decimals and percentages or ratios, rates and applying math to word problems. Without solid memorization of multiplication & division tables, factoring and simplifying are much more difficult. A better understanding of the basics, including learning different methods and shortcuts, can not only boost confidence but can improve grades and SAT scores. Spend time with a tutor or use different websites to review topics from previous years. It will help, exponentially!

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