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Evaluating Expressions Question Stack Activity – Basic

I created this evaluating expressions question stack activity to give my Algebra 1 students some much needed practice evaluating expressions. I have actually created two different question stacks for this topic.

evaluating expressions activity - basic question stack

This particular question stack was the first one I created, and the questions in this activity are much more basic. If you are looking for more challenge questions for evaluating expressions, check out my advanced level question stack for evaluating expressions.

Earlier this week, my Algebra 1 students took their second quiz of the year on evaluating expressions.  They spent the first two-thirds of class doing a practice activity I created and the last third of class taking their quizzes.

The activity I created was a question stack – one of my all time favorite practice structures!  Students received a deck of 10 double-sided cards.  One side of the card has an expression to evaluate and specifies what values you should substitute.  The other side of the card has an answer, but it’s an answer to a DIFFERENT question.

Students start by laying out all the cards with the answers facing up.  This is the group’s answer bank.  Students flip over a single card.  This is the start of their “question stack” and their first question to solve.  After solving that question, students pick up the corresponding question card and place it on top of the question card they just solved.  The question and answer should now be facing each other.

Now, students solve the new question and the process continues until they have worked through all the cards.  I love this activity due to its self-checking nature.  It lets me easily focus on which groups need help.  Students can’t move on until they figure out the answer.  This means that they start helping each other, and they start actually asking for help!  We use our dry erase boards to work out the problems which always makes practice a bit more fun.

Here’s an example of what a card looks like:

And, here’s the answer bank:

This was definitely a worthwhile practice activity, and it’s a must-do for the future.

This activity was designed to align to the Oklahoma Academic Standards for Algebra 1.  The standard is A1.A.3.4 Evaluate linear, absolute value, rational, and radical expressions. Include applying a non-standard operation.

There are no non-standard operations in this activity because we reviewed them the previous day.  That didn’t go well, but that’s another story for another day!

Here’s what the two sides of the template for this activity look like:

These turn out to be pretty easy activities to make.  I made a special template to make my life even easier.

Make Your Own Question Stacks

Want to make your own question stack activity? I have created an easy to use printable question stack template that works perfectly every time. All you have to do is add your own questions!

make your own question stack template.

More Activities for Evaluating Expressions


Tuesday 20th of December 2016

I just love this idea! Thanks for sharing. I've taken your description and created a Google Doc template to share with the teachers at my middle school. I thought some of your readers would like to have it too, so here's the link. (You can only view this file, but if you make a copy you can edit it for yourself.)

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Wednesday 19th of April 2017

Thanks so much for sharing, Alisan!


Tuesday 13th of September 2016

Hello Sarah! I have been following your blog for years and it is my favorite! Thank you for everything you share. Your generosity has enabled me to use wonderful activities in my classroom.

I love the question stack activity and anticipate using a lot this year. I do have a question though - does each student receive a deck of cards? Does each group receive a deck of cards? Or a deck of cards per pair of students? Please share what works best.

Thanks again. Have a great day!


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