Lesson Plan

Writing About Math Expressions

Have your students evaluate orally and in writing what happens to expressions when there are two or more operations. Use this lesson as a standalone lesson or as support to the lesson Express Yourself.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Express Yourself! lesson plan.
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This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Express Yourself! lesson plan.



Students will interpret numerical expressions without solving them and write simple expressions.


Students will be able to say and analyze mathematical expressions using new vocabulary and peer supports.


(5 minutes)
Graphic Organizer Template: Frayer ModelVocabulary Cards: Writing About Math ExpressionsGlossary: Writing About Math ExpressionsTeach Background Knowledge TemplateWrite Student-Facing Language Objectives Reference
  • Provide an expression on the board with multiple operations that has parentheses (e.g., (17 – 7) x 8).
  • Gather background knowledge by asking students to solve the problem on their whiteboards. Observe how they solve the problem and whether they use the order of operations.
  • Choose a volunteer to share their solution aloud ("My answer is..."). Have students consider what happened to the difference after they subtracted 17 – 7 and share their ideas with their elbow partners (e.g., "The difference increased eight times.").
  • Write some of the phrases you overheard on the board and read some of them aloud.
  • Tell students the expression (17 – 7) x 8 is eight times the expression (17 – 7) and write the comparison sentence on the board.
  • Explain to students that today they will consider an expression with parentheses and say what will happen to the expression within the parentheses when they consider the second operation (i.e., they will compare two parts of an expression without solving for the expression).