Lesson Plan

Order of Operations Sequencing

Challenge students to listen to instructions to create expressions with parentheses. Use this lesson on its own or as support to the lesson PEMDAS: Order Up.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the PEMDAS: Order Up! lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the PEMDAS: Order Up! lesson plan.



Students will solve expressions using the order of operations.


Students will be able to listen to and solve mathematical expressions involving parentheses using transition words and peer supports.


(5 minutes)
Impact of ParenthesesVocabulary Cards: Order of Operations SequencingGlossary: Order of Operations SequencingTeach Background Knowledge TemplateWrite Student-Facing Language Objectives Reference
  • Draw an array on the board (e.g., 16 by 4) and ask students to copy the same on their whiteboards. Then, instruct students to do 3 things to the array, without any sequencing words or language (e.g., add 4, divide by 2, subtract 7). Allow them to do them in any order they choose, and restate them, mixing the order in which you say them (e.g., subtract 7, add 4, divide by 2).
  • Have students compare each other's answers to see that if they did the steps in a different order from their partners, each person's answer could be different. Some of the students may not even have whole numbers any longer ("I noticed I have ________ while you have ________.").
  • Explain to students that today they'll use symbols that represent the sequencing words ("first," "second," "third," etc.) they use in everyday conversation to solve math problems. Tell them that parentheses are symbols used in mathematical problems to help decide the order in which to solve the problem.