Order of Operations
Why I like this problem: This problem is a great review of order of operations and number sense. It gives younger students a chance to practice skills they have freshly learned, and older students can sharpen critical thinking skills by planning out the solution and arriving at the largest or smallest value more efficiently than trying random orders.
Observations from class: I had to clarify to students that the multiple rows were only there to give them space to try various orders and that they were not required to fill them all out if they found the answer. I also collected students' answers on the board to keep track of the current "record". Students worked to beat the value on the board and updated it when they obtained a higher value. This created healthy competition and helped students figure out how close they were to reaching the goal of the task.
Follow-up questions I asked:
1. Can you make the value larger / smaller?
2. What strategies did you use to figure this out?
3. Are there multiple ways to obtain the same answer?
4. Are there any numbers that must be put in a certain position?
5. Are there any numbers that you know will not lead you to the answer? How do you know?
Required skills / content: Order of operations.