Thursday, April 18, 2019

Connected in the Classroom: Order of Operations

I taught order of operations a couple of weeks ago and to be perfectly honest, I wanted to hide in the corner of the classroom and avoid this unit. I think I've mentioned before that I'm super confident in my understanding of math, but explaining it to kids who think differently than I do sends me for a loop. I know there are so many different ways to interact with math and I really struggle to understand other people's math logic. I try my hardest but it's a struggle.

I was nervous going into this topic (and it was an evaluation - so nervous times two!), but I think the way I approached it really helped. I started by creating a common sense of cognitive dissonance. I put up a simple math problem that needed order of operations to be solved correctly. Creating this common sense of 'I don't know what's going on here' really peaked their curiosity and motivated them to figure this out!

Then what I did next really changed the game - I played bingo with them. These kids really thrived in games and playing bingo with them was exactly what they needed to hook them into this lesson. Even my students who would have otherwise not been engaged in this got so into the bingo game and really got order of operations.

I made 4 versions of this bingo card and created equations to correspond to each number. I randomly selected equations, displayed them on the SMARTboard then gave the class time to solve the equation. To play the bingo game, each kiddo had a dry erase board, a marker, a bingo card and bingo chips. We played until the first group of students got bingo then I gave them treats (a.k.a. granola bars).

Like I mentioned above, students who are typically not engaged in math got so into this game. I had students taking out their multiplication tables for support so that they could participate in this game (all the praise hands!!). Starting them off with this game was a great way to get them started and from this point on they were super into order of operations AND they were crazy good at it! Many of my student said this felt like decoding a secret message and that they were like spies - this definitely gave me big ideas for the next time I teach order of operations. Super spies!!

The next thing I did also really supported my students' success in order of operations. I gave them this...
And, I let them color it! My students love coloring and drawing. Bringing a little bit of art in to math really captured their attention! They each got a little 'bedmas' poster to keep in their math binders and they got to decorate it however they wanted. I highly, highly recommend this. Personalizing this little part of their learning was so helpful to my kids! You can download this bedmas poster HERE.

I have some super fun recipes coming your way next week (spoiler alert - the best gluten free & vegan cookies I have ever made!). Stay tuned!

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