Math Symbols Test

Again, inspired by Sarah Hagan, she posted some math symbols posters that made me think how much math is like a new language and a lot can be lost in the technicalities of those symbols. And there is much to be gained with precision.

Since my room was freshly painted this year, I am hesitating to hang any posters at all (it's so nice and clean) and plus I hate clutter.

So in my theme of math tools from my previous post and in building the importance of their INB as a tool to constantly refer to, I decided to make a Math Symbol INB activity.

Here's the plan. First, give them this multiple choice handout to complete alone.

Then let them compare with others and discuss. After that, I will give the correct answers.

Now comes the fun part. I will tell them they now have to use the correct answers to create their own type of study guide. That's right, there will be a test!

Here's a quick list of things they could create:

The point is they have freedom to come up with anything they want that will help them learn and retain the meaning of the symbols. I think it sets the tone for the year in many ways.

Like learning a language:
  • math is hard
  • it takes effort
  • there are weird symbols
  • immersion is a great way to learn
  • if you don't use it, you'll lose it
  • everyone learns in different ways
  • no one can understand it for you

Like the classroom culture I want to maintain and build:
  • there is room for creativity
  • we celebrate multiple and unique methods
  • it's not a race
  • it can be fun
  • you can learn hard things
  • we are always learning

Then I plan to take pictures of whatever they come up with and add those to their INB along with this handout as a reference.

Please let me know if you see any errors!


  1. I have a suggestion: separate and group the symbols by topic and function. In forgein languages, words are broken up into topics (words for hotels, restaurants, school) and into grammatical function (noun, verb, adjective). Likewise, these symbols can be split by topic (geometry, algebra, set theory) and by function (binary relation, binary operation, unary operation, entities (empty set, set of reals, pi)). I'd be happy to help and even come up with a proposed sheet of grouped symbols. Reply to this comment or find me on social media if you're interested.

    1. That's a great idea Andrew. I would love your help on that. I know how to separate by topic but I don't understand how to separate by function.

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    3. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B63YzscedwuZSGdwVDFCVXU4N28/view?usp=sharing

      Added the link wrong the last time. This is a first draft. I omitted the summation symbol because I don't know for sure which topic it fell under (my guess was algebra). I've also include some examples in algebra. If you like, I can include more in the other areas. If you don't, just delete them. Finally, I don't have the Word-skills that you do. Sorry.

  2. http://cousinomath.website/blog/2015/8/11/functional-roles-of-math-symbols

    I tried to explain the functional roles of math symbols in my blog posting. Let me know how I did and if you have any questions.