Order in the Math Class

Middle School and High School Teacher

The students will physically review the order of operations.

Grade Level: 5 - 7th

Subject: Math

Length of Time: 1-2 Class Periods

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Common Core Alignment

CCSS.Math.Content.6.EE.A.2.C - Evaluate expressions at specific values of their variables. Include expressions that arise from formulas used in real-world problems. Perform arithmetic operations, including those involving whole-number exponents, in the conventional order when there are no parentheses to specify a particular order (Order of Operations). For example, use the formulas V = s3 and A = 6 s2 to find the volume and surface area of a cube with sides of length s = 1/2.

Objectives & Outcomes

Using an interactive process, the students will be able to correctly use the order of operations.

Materials Needed

Pre-cut sheets of paper/cardboard large enough to see at a short distance, markers

Prepare ahead of time:  Create about 15 pieces of cardboard/paper with each having a different symbol, number, number w/exponent, root, parenthesis, etc.


Opening to Lesson

  • Display the letters: PEMDAS (Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Addition, Subtraction)
  • Explain to students this will help them remember the order of operations
  • Display an example and have students solve the problem
  • Discuss responses and common errors

Body of Lesson


  • Display prepared pieces of paper/cardboard showing different parts of an expression: operation signs, exponents, parenthesis, etc.
  • Give the samples to student volunteers or assign each to a student
  • Have students stand in front of the room creating an acceptable expression to be solved
  • Ask seated students to solve the problem
  • Discuss responses and common errors
  • Have the students shuffle the display
  • Ask students to solve the new problem

Guided Practice

  • Split students into two large groups
  • Distribute blank sheets or paper/cardboard and markers to the students
  • Have students create various operational signs, numbers, parenthesis, exponents, roots, etc. (This should take no more than 10-15 minutes)
  • Once both groups have completed creating the display cards, tell students they will arrange them in a logical order for the other half of the class to solve
  • Some students may be holding a parenthesis and a number, or an operational sign and number
  • Encourage students to display easier problems first, then increase the difficulty
  • Allow about 10-15 minutes for each group to present the problems in front of the classroom
  • The seated students will be solving the expression (An option may be for the class to solve together the first couple of times.)
  • During the lesson, remind students of PEMDAS, but also tell students that when it is only addition/subtraction or multiplication/division, work left to right
  • Seated students may also write out the problem to help with solving
  • Review PEMDAS

Independent Practice

  • Create or use a commercial worksheet with problems students will solve using the correct order of operations, in-class or for homework.


Ask students why it is important to solve problems using the correct order of operations.  Finally, ask students to create a new pneumonic device to recall the order of operations.

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Assessment & Evaluation

Assessment page used for students to solve order of operation expressions/problems

Modification & Differentiation

Students work in smaller groups; have the paper/cardboard symbols, numbers, etc. created ahead of time and distribute some to each student randomly calling students to the front of the room to display different problems; do the lesson outdoors or in a gym where there is more room; have students create a 6-foot problem using old adding machine-like tape for peers to solve.

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