Widely known by the acronym PEMDAS, and the mnemonic device Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally, the order of operations is the correct method of completing an equation. As interactive exercises help reinforce teaching, using an order of operations worksheet can solidify this method in your students.
The correct order for completing equations is:
This order is important because it establishes consistency within mathematics, and lets people communicate mathematical information more precisely. You would use the order in everyday problems as well. For example, to calculate how much tickets will cost for two classes of students going on a field trip, you would have to add the two numbers of students together before multiplying that number by the number of tickets, and then multiply that number by the cost of each ticket. Thus, you’d have to place the two numbers of students in parentheses to make sure to add them first.
It’s important to remember that multiplication does not come before division, and addition does not come before subtraction. Multiplication and division are equally important, so that you should not multiply two numbers before dividing adjacent numbers. The same is true of addition and subtraction. In these circumstances, simply complete this part of the equation from left to right. For example, if the equation is 4 – 2 + 5, you would subtract two first, and then add five, rather than subtracting 7 from 4.
Using Order of Operations Worksheets
Creating effective order of operations worksheets with a word processing program or with templates is easy. A basic version can feature problems that exercise each skill involved: distinguishing operations within parentheses from operations outside, distinguishing exponential operations from multiplication/division operations, and distinguishing addition/subtraction operations from others. Depending on the skill of your students, you could start them out only distinguishing one group from another, and then move on to problems that feature every type of operation.
It is often best to start off with simpler problems. For example, you could start with problems that distinguish addition/subtraction from multiplication/division, such as 8 + 4 X 2. Then, you could introduce parentheses with the next lesson, with problems such as 4 X 10 (12 – 2). Finally, introduce your students to problems involving each concept at once, gradually making each problem longer.
It can be helpful to provide space underneath each problem to let students show their work, letting them do each step sequentially.