Rolling with the Order of Operations

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SWBAT solve problems using the order of operations with whole numbers by creating their own numerical expressions in a game.

Big Idea

Game based learning on the Order of Operations

Do Now

10 minutes

As usual my students enter the room silently after greeting me at the door. On their desk they will find a Do Now assignment with a sticky note on it. The Do Now will ask them to construct a multi-step numerical expression that describes a word problem. The word problem is written on chart paper and also written on the students’ Do Now.

Students must write their expression on the sticky note along with their name and a numeric answer to the question:

In your opinion, at what age is someone ‘old’?

Students must also copy their expression on their own paper. There will be 4 different age ranges posted on the walls of the classroom. Students must place their sticky note on the appropriate range for their opinion answer. A picture of a sample sticky will also be projected.

Students must return to their seat to evaluate their expression and write the answer in a complete sentence.

Word Problem:

Ms. Chavira is shopping at Costco for the Boston End of Year Reward Trip. There are 67 KIPPsters attending. The KIPPsters will need to make sandwiches for lunch one of those days. Each KIPPster will need to make 2 sandwiches (each sandwich requires two slices of bread). How many loaves of bread will Ms. Chavira need to purchase if each loaf has 15 slices of bread?

The reason I have students work on a word problem today is that I want them to make connections between the order of operations and their application to word problems. Most of the task on this day will be practicing operations so I also wanted to make sure they got some practice with at least one word problem.

If a student finishes all directions in the Do Now before time is up, they may take a “gallery walk” of the chart papers and return to their seat to answer Journal Questions (Journal question is written on the SMARTboard and students may answer in their journals).

Explain why you chose the age written on your sticky note.

What did other students choose? How is it different from what you chose?

Differentiating the Lesson
Students will also receive a double sided card, red on one side green on the other. The card will be turned to the green side when students enter the room. Their “Do Now” will instruct them to turn the card over to red if they need help. Before a student turns the card to the red side, they must read the problem at least twice and they must be ready to share at least one strategy they tried before asking for help. When I notice that a student has turned a card over to red, I start out by asking them what they have already tried. This lets me know how much the student understands or sheds light into any misunderstandings. Then, I use a series of guiding questions to scaffold their way through some steps in the problem:

  • What information is given?
  • What are some of the operations needed in this problem?
  • What does the answer to this step represent in this problem? What will you have to do next?
  • Start with the first two facts given in the problem. What piece of information can you figure out using these two facts?
  • How many steps are needed to solve this problem?

Once all students are finished, we will review the solution to the problem. I will take three examples of sticky notes that are correct and project them on the document camera; some students may write the multiplied values in different orders, presenting a great way to ask questions about the commutative and associative properties (vocab given on Day 1). Students will be asked to check their neighbors’ expressions for any possible errors. We will share the answer. To close, I will ask for student to raise their hand if they have any questions. If more than 3 students raise their hand, these students will get an additional sticky note for their question and will stick it on the black board. 

Intro to Lesson + Task

20 minutes

We will have a brief conversation about the “order” and its importance. I will give two examples of situations where order matters:

  • If you are given an allowance and you go to the movies, you should buy movie tickets before you purchase popcorn and soda
  • Architects must create a blueprint of a building before building the structure

A couple of students can also volunteer examples where order matters. Then I will explain that when simplifying expressions in math, the order in which things are done matters as well and we know this as the “order of operations”. We will quickly review the order (PEMDAS) making sure we review the fact that we work from left to right when we only have multiplication/division or addition/subtraction in any given expression.

For the task students will be placed in pairs. Each student will receive a laminated game card and each pair will receive 1 die. The student whose birthday is coming up sooner will roll first and write that number in the first box of their game card for round 1. Then the other student will roll and write that number in the first box of their game card for round 1. These steps will repeat until all boxes (on the left side of the = sign) for round 1 are filled. Students will then evaluate their expressions and write the answer in the box on the right of the = sign. The person with the largest answer wins a point for that round. Score can be kept in the form of tallies at the top of the game card. The student with the most points at the end of 7 rounds wins.

During this activity I will be walking around with a classroom map of student seating and names. I will use this map for notes and anecdotal information so that I can get to know students’ weaknesses in number operations and begin to brainstorm some possible differentiation strategies moving forward.


10 minutes

At the end of this activity students will turn to the neighbors behind/in front of them to make groups of 4 and share who won, 1 expression they were able to do mentally, and 1 expression that required them to use paper and pencil and required multiple check steps due to its complexity. I’ll give students 3 minutes to do this. Then, if time permits, two students will share this information with the class using a document camera to walk students through the  most difficult expression they solved as well as any strategies they used to solve or check.