Order of Operations for Back to School!

What is the basic order of operations?

PEMDAS - Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication/Division, Addition/Subtraction

The rules for order of operations are the backbone of multi-step problems. They are the pirate’s treasure map that tell you what to do first, second, third, and so on to get to “X” marks the spot! Without this unifying set of rules, we would have ALL SORTS of different answers for problems! 

We’ve all seen the math problem memes floating around social media. And have you ever noticed how many DIFFERENT answers are submitted in the comments?!?! Well, if everyone follows PEMDAS *properly* there would be no question!

So, What is the rule for PEMDAS?

P – Parenthesis ( ) or either type of brackets [ ] { } 

Parenthesis (or brackets) can group one or more operations together. If there are more than one, simply follow the order of operations within the set of parenthesis as you would if it was a stand alone problem. 

E – Exponents 82

Exponents tell you how many of the base number to multiply together. So in the example above, 82 = 8×8 = 64

MD – Multiplication and Division.

This is where I think most students have trouble. The acronym “PEMDAS” leads students to believe that multiplication comes before division. That is not always the case. Division can be done before multiplication if it comes first in order from left to right. Here is an example of when you would divide before multiplying:

A great example of when to divide before multiplying when using order of operations!
Because the division operation is first when reading from left to right, it is performed before multiplying 2!

AS – Addition and Subtraction

Again, this is similar to the above rule. Students should add or subtract in order from left to right as the operations appear in the problem. Addition does not necessarily happen first every time!

It’s back to school after COVID lockdown!

Here are some ways to make it great!

After this past year, I think it’s safe to say that everyone had to dive into technology a little bit more than they ever thought they would before! Now teachers and students zoom around on Google Classroom, know exactly how to sign into their Schoology accounts, and are a whiz with Seesaw. Now that (most) students and teachers will be back in the classroom, why not put all of that technological savvy to use?!

Boom Cards are an EXCELLENT way to practice skills, like order of operations! They are fun, interactive online task cards that give students immediate feedback on their progress, and give teachers a detailed report of how well students are doing with the skill. I have 3 amazing sets of Order of Operations Boom Cards that will help your students practice PEMDAS! Try any of the first 4 cards of ANY deck for FREE here!

Sets 1 and 2 of 3 amazing order of operations digital task cards!

I also created the same sets of problems for Google Slides as well! Many teachers use Google Slides in their classrooms for either whole group instruction, or to easily assign homework or extra practice to their students through Google Classroom. In these sets of Order of Operation problems, students are given two different expressions to solve per slide. These expressions are only slightly different from one another (usually one has a set of parentheses and the other does not) so that students can see a side-by-side example of what a difference order of operations makes! Students must highlight the specific part of the problem they are solving, then re-type what is left over in the rows below until they have reached an answer. Click on the images below to see a video demonstration of how these Google Slides work!

Order of Operations digital task cards for Google Slides!

If you’re looking for Order of Operations problems WITH exponents, I have a Boom Cards set and Google Set here!

Boom Cards and Google Slides WITH exponents!

I would love to hear your thoughts on how YOU have implemented good learning strategies for order of operations in your classroom! I’d also love to hear what you think about these sets of Boom Cards and Google Slides!

Take care, and have a happy Back to School season!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: