Activities to Teach Students to Evaluate Numerical Expressions With Parentheses and Brackets

Parentheses and brackets are common when writing numerical expressions in mathematics. These symbols provide clarity and order to an expression, helping students to understand the intended order of operations. However, many students struggle with evaluating expressions that involve parentheses and brackets. Here are some activities and strategies to help students master this essential math skill.

1. Use visuals

The first step in teaching students to evaluate numerical expressions with parentheses and brackets is to use visuals. One effective way to do this is to use color-coded cards. Each card should represent a number or symbol in the expression. For example, 5 could be represented by a blue card, and the plus sign could be a yellow card.

The teacher can then use red cards for parentheses and green cards for brackets. By visually representing the expression on a table with the colored cards, students can easily see the order of operations and how parentheses and brackets affect it. For example, (5+3) x 2 would be represented as:

(red) blue + blue (red) x yellow
3 2

2. Practice with real-world scenarios

A great way to make learning math more engaging is by putting it into real-world scenarios. This way, students can see how they will need to use math in their everyday life. For example, students can be given a recipe that has multiple steps requiring them to use parentheses and brackets. By figuring out how much of each ingredient is needed, students can practice evaluating expressions while also working on practical skills.

3. Peer assessment

Working in small groups with peers can be a great way for students to practice evaluating numerical expressions. They can solve problems together and then assess each other’s work. This way, students can get feedback on their own work while also learning from their peers’ approaches.

4. Use technology

Technology can be a fantastic tool to help students learn how to evaluate numerical expressions. Apps like Mathway or Symbolab can help students see step-by-step how to evaluate expressions with parentheses and brackets. By following along with the app, students can gain a better understanding of the concepts and strategies required to evaluate expressions.

5. Scaffolded practice

One of the best ways to help students master any skill is to provide them with scaffolds. This means breaking the skill down into smaller steps and providing support along the way. For example, students can start with evaluating expressions without parentheses or brackets and then move on to expressions with one set of parentheses or brackets. As they get more comfortable, they can work on more complex expressions that involve multiple sets of parentheses and brackets.

In conclusion, mastering the skill of evaluating numerical expressions with parentheses and brackets is essential for success in math. Using these activities and strategies, students can gain a better understanding of the concepts and techniques needed to evaluate expressions effectively. With practice, patience, and the right tools, students can master this important math skill.

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