Dear sirs:

I am a homebound teacher, and my nineth grade algebra I student is having trouble understanding absolute value. Please send me an idea about how to best help her. She may be out of the classroom the entire year. Thank You.
(homebound high school teacher)

Hi Susan,

Think of the number x as a point of the x-axis -- numbers on the right are positive while those on the left are negative. The absolute value of x -- which we write |x| -- is its distance from the origin. In fact, where you see the term "absolute value" you can always substitute "distance." The most important property is that the "distance" (or absolute value) is positive for every number except zero.

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