Saturday, September 22, 2012

Order of Operations Foldable

My students have been working with order of operations since they were in fifth grade, and it amazes me every year how they can recite the order of operations back to me, but when it comes to applying it - 'poof!' - it's like they've never heard of it before!  I've also found that often students recite the order as parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction without any reference to the fact that multiplication and division/addition and subtraction are completed from left to right and that they aren't two different steps.  They also don't know what to do with roots when they encounter them, and problems where a sum is being divided by another sum. 

I still needed to review the order of operations with the students, but I wanted to make sure I would give them a resource they could refer back to throughout the year and into high level maths if necessary.  I'm a firm believer that just because I'm not teaching something this year doesn't mean I should avoid it if it will cause confusion later.  For example, when I taught fifth grade I didn't tell students you can't subtract five from three (3 - 5) because you can - I just told them that it would be a negative answer and they would learn about that in middle school.

PEMDAS Flipbook
I went a searching online and found this great idea for a foldable from the blog Math = Love.  I made my own version mainly because I wanted the words to be preprinted.  We cut them out and glued them into our math notebooks, and then took the notes about each step on the inside, behind the preprinted words.  On the side that was pasted down we completed a practice problem showing the order of operations. 

We wrote notes for each step on the inside
We solved a practice problem on the other side

The students then completed a practice sheet using the order of operations. My students did fairly well with it - a couple of missteps but nothing too bad.  However, the next day in our stations as we were working on our algebraic expressions posters (I talked about them here) some kept forgetting to use the order of operations.  I would ask them what does the order of operations say to do, and I had more than one student who looked at me with eyes opened wide and asked, 'this is order of operations?!?'  We definitely need to keep working on it.  :)  If you want a copy of this flipbook, click here.

 In other news, I took the plunge and opened a teachers pay teachers store, which you realize if you tried to download this flipbook..  I only have three products on there so far (two of which are free), but it was really awesome to wake up this morning and see that someone had given one my freebies 4 out of 4 stars!  Someone likes something I made!  I know, I'm a bit of a dork, but I am very excited about this new endeavour.  I don't expect to ever be making thousands of dollars like some of those AMAZING teachers, but I think I am going to enjoy getting the feedback from other teachers on things I've made - and since I'm a bit of a perfectionist it will encourage me to really think out a lot of the details of things I'm making so I can sell them on there later!  You can visit my teachers pay teachers store here.  (Even if you don't want to buy anything, you can go see what I'm talking about.)  The site overall is a wealth of fantastic resources, and if you aren't using it yet (and you're a teacher), I would encourage you to take a look.  A lot of the stuff on there is free too!

How do you get your students to remember to use the order of operations with everything?  What do you think about my teacher store?



  1. This is amazing. Thank you.

  2. I have found that if I use "GEMS" my students do a little better. G=Grouping Symbols
    M=Multiply and Divide in order from left to right
    S=Subtract and add in order from left to right


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