*[Update] Here's a video for those visual learners: Vimeo or YouTube.
Sorry, I'm not here to discuss where Order of Operations came from, why does it exist, or what underground math cult magically persuaded the entire universe to evaluate mathematical expressions in the way we do. My twitter cohorts @MrPicc112, @jreulback, @druinok, @ChrisHunter36, @fnoschese, and @ray_emily had a fantastic discussion the other week. It would be nice to know why, where, and how Order of Operations came to be. However, I've reached the point of acceptance. Honestly! I've learned to accept acceptance. So, on with the show.
I get together with my nephew (16 years younger and still in HS) and we jam out to our favorite bands in my garage every once in a while. This last time we jammed, I asked him to throw a beat down for my PEMDAS song since I actually wanted to record it. Being the phenomenal young drummer that he is, he was happy to do so! He did a fantastic job in about 10 minutes. Every other noise you hear is me... guitar, bass, and vocals. So at least the drumming is good. You don't dig it, blame everything on me. I dig it! Many of my former students dig the song and sometimes sing it back to me in class. Very cool. Many times throughout the year, all I have to say is, "Parentheses" and without skipping a beat, the students respond, "Start with these."
If you decide to torture your students with the PEMDAS song, here are a few tips:
1. Do a 'call & response.' You start each line of the verse and they finish it:
Students: Start with these
2. Tell your students it will only take a minute to learn and a lifetime to forget!
3. Hire me and I'll come perform at your school. Ha!
4. Don't forget to actually teach them how to simplify/evaluate expressions.
If you're looking for an extension to torturing your students with learning the song, have them rewrite the lyrics of the second verse. Have them write lyrics for the Left to Right rule that applies to Multiplication/Division and Addition/Subtraction. I did this one year and really received some cool lyrics. I also received some terrible ones because those kids could have given a rip about the assignment. Guess what though! They remembered the Left to Right rule. Who's laughing now?
This was a labor of love. I hope you get some mileage out of it, no matter what grade you teach. Lastly, not all your students are the biggest fans of cheesy songs like this. I never was! Hence, my reluctance to record and share. I'm seriously thinking about making a video to accompany the song for those visual learners. Stay tuned!
P.S. Apologies to my Canadian and British readers! PEMDAS is kind of limited to the States. Let me know and maybe I'll upload an instrumental version and you guys can change the lyrics to suit your needs.