• best teaching practices
  • PEMDAS | Does Order Really Matter?

    How do you get your students to realize that when solving an expression, order matters? How do you get your students to understand why PEMDAS is important?

    Introduction with interactive story:

    “Football season was coming. Being a son of a football coach, you could count on Brandon being on and off the football field. Today was no different. Brandon was given the task to organize the many footballs the football players used for practice.”

    “He stored 7 footballs in the storage closet, followed by 2 piles of 6 footballs in the locker room closet. Brandon proudly told his dad that he was hard at work. His dad asked, “How many footballs have you stored?”

    Question #1: Write an expression to best represent this
    7 + 2 x 6
    Seven footballs in the storage closet + 2 equal groups of 6 footballs in the locker room closet.

    Question #2: Evaluate the expression
    This is where you will see students get different answers!!!!!
    54 footballs VS 19 footballs

    Question #3: Can you draw a picture to represent this?
    The picture is SO POWERFUL!
    This is a great way to talk about WHY the order matters.

    The correct picture shows two closets. In the storage closet there are 7 footballs. In the locker room closet there should be two piles with 6 footballs in each. So basically students HAVE to do 2×6 = 12 footballs in the locker room closet. AND THEN add the 7 footballs in the storage closet to get a total of 19 footballs. 🙂


    click here to get notes

    Go over the steps of PEMDAS with student notes.

    After going over PEMDAS, the students need ample time to practice. I have found that organization is key when solving expressions. Make students write out each step. Make
    it fun by allowing students to color code their steps! This will help you and your students see where mistakes are happening!