Grade 4
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Tips and Tricks

Order of Operations

  • Arrange students in pairs. Give each pair of students 16 blank cards. Have them write the numbers 0-9 and the symbols +, -, times, , (, and ) on the cards. Have one student use three numbers, two operations, and the parentheses to construct an expression. Have the other student evaluate the expression. Be sure to have the first student check the answer.

  • Problems like the following are great for helping students practice with grouping symbols:
    Place two parentheses in this expression to yield 17.
    6 + 5 times 4 – 3 times 2 + 1

  • When working with parentheses, it is strongly recommended that students use pencil. This will allow students to erase as they evaluate expressions.

  • Be sure to add words such as parentheses, order, and operation to your students' spelling and vocabulary lists. It is important to try to use these as much as possible so students will become adept with the language of mathematics.

  • Some students may draw parentheses that look like the letter "C" while others may use too much space between the parentheses and numbers of operations. A good test is to see whether or not other students can read the expression written by another student.

  • When having students practice working on problems with parentheses, be sure to mix in problems without parentheses that require knowledge of the order of operations.

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