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Order of Operations (in & out of the classroom)

Well, after 7 months of no new posts, I'm happy to say, I'm back! As I'm sure many of you know, life tends to get in the way of sitting down and really getting to do the "extras" that we enjoy. And as teachers, I know we hate hearing excuses, so let me get those out of the way. These past seven months have consisted of getting ready for a new school year, teaching the largest class I've ever had (I have about 135 6th graders this year!), starting my masters degree, coaching basketball, spending time with my family and friends, and I took one of the most fantastic trips of my lifetime! (See last part of this post for more on this!) So I guess you could say that my work and school life are the parentheses or exponents in an expression, while my fun little hobbies are more like poor addition and subtraction-always coming last!

Now that that's out of the way, I've decided to take to my blog for my day off (thank you sinus infection & bronchitis) and show you the latest activity that quite possibly may be one my favorite activities that I've ever created. If you follow me on INSTAGRAM, you've definitely already seen this activity, but if not, I give you the ORDER OF OPERATIONS OPERATING ROOM!

This activity started with me wearing one of my mom's old labcoats with a name tag indicating that I was the "chief of surgery." This alone got students talking and you could instantly feel a buzz in the hallways. "What are we doing in math today?" or "Why is she wearing that?" I was just as excited as my students for them to get to my class to find out what we were doing that day.

Students came into class with so many questions, so we got started right away. Stations were already set up (see photo below) so all I had to do was provide brief instructions. They were to pick a surgery to start with. They could start with a broken wrist (the easiest) and work their way up to brain surgery (the most challenging) or they could pick something in between like a knee replacement or open heart surgery. At each surgery, they were to copy an expression down on their own answer sheet and evaluate it following the order of operations. After finding the solution, they were to scan the QR code that matched the problem and check to see if they performed the operation correct. If their answer did not match the QR code, they had to go back and "save their patient" by fixing their mistake.

Overall, students LOVED this activity. I had several teachers pop into my room to see what the buzz was about. One of my favorite things about the lesson was how much some of my students got into their role as a doctor. They started referring to their classmates as "doctor" or "nurse" while some even went as far as writing Dr. in front of their name on their paper. Others would get worked up and claim, "We're running out of time, we have to hurry and save this patient, solve faster!" It truly was a day of heartwarming teaching moments and most importantly my kids were learning AND working together, and as teachers, could we possibly ask for more?


meet lauren

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Hey there, I'm Lauren.

I'm a 6th grade math teacher in Missouri. Mathematics in the Middle is an educational blog devoted to resources and ideas that can be applied to any middle school mathematics classroom.

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