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Lesson plan

Order of Operations Lesson Plan - 6th Grade Math


In this lesson, we’ll introduce the concept of order of operations to `6`th graders with a warm-up activity where students decide which students solved the problem correctly. This will lead to a direct-instruction guided practice lesson on how to solve problems using the order of operations. You can expect this lesson, with additional practice, to take one `45`-minute class period.

Grade 6
Expressions, Equations, And Inequalities
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Students will be able to solve problems using the order of operations.


  • Slideshow
  • Partner activity
  • Online Practice

How to Teach Order of Operations

Bell ringer

Start the lesson with a warm-up activity on slide one of the slideshow where students must choose which student solved the problem accurately. Give students a few minutes to decide who solved it correctly. They should write their reasoning in their notebook.

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Turn and talk

Students turn to their partner and share their thoughts on who is correct and why. Once each student is done sharing with their partner, come together as a class to discuss the answer. 

Call on students to share what their partner said, whether they agree with them, and why. We want students to notice that Maia solved the problem by working from left to right. Dakota solved the problem by first using multiplication and division operations, then moving to addition. Share this with the class if it was not brought up. 

Why should we follow an order?

Ask students whether it is important for everybody to follow an order. Imagine what could happen if we did not follow the same order.  Tell students that both Maia and Dakota should have gotten the same answer. We want them to follow the order of operations. Tell them that it is important to follow the order of operations so that everyone gets the same answer.

What is the order of operations?

Move onto slide `2` where you will teach the order of operations using an anchor chart. You can also print this anchor chart slide to post in your class for students to reference.

What comes first? Addition or subtraction?

This is an important rule that students are likely to misinterpret. Present a problem where they have to decide whether addition or subtraction comes first. 

Students tend to add before subtracting since A comes before S in PEMDAS. Talk about how when choosing between addition and subtraction, you have to go from left to right. You might want to give a similar problem where they have to choose between multiplication and division. 

Class practice

Move onto slides `3` and `4` to work through a few problems with students. A strategy for simplifying using the order of operations is to identify and underline what needs to be done at each step. Follow the examples below as a way to teach your students these habits!

Example 1: Simplify `3 \times (6 + 8) – 10 \times 4`

Example 2: Simplify `8\div 4+7(6-2)+3^2`

Partner activity

Once you go over the two examples as a class, pass out the partner activity where students get to work through some practice problems. Let students know that they will work together on this activity to decide which students solved the problem using the correct order of operations and that they will need to explain where the error occurred and accurately solve the problem.

Order of Operations Practice

After you’ve completed the examples with the whole class, it’s time for some independent practice! ByteLearn gives you access to tons of order of operations activities. Check out their online practice and assign them to your students for classwork and/or homework!

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Order of Operations Practice
Problem 1 of 4
<p>Simplify:</p><p>`3 + 9 × 5 + 6^2`</p>

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