This was the first time I’ve taught exponents without explicitly telling students the “rules” at some point within the unit. Many students still said things like, “Oh, so when you divide, you subtract the exponents.” I have mixed feelings over this. Yes, I want my students to notice patterns, but not at the expense of understanding the math they are doing. This is one of the things I struggle ensuring as a teacher -that after my students have noticed patterns, they still understand what is actually happening.
I started the unit with a modified version of Andrew Stadel’s exponent mistakes worksheet. (I know I found someone else’s version of this worksheet that I modified, but I can’t remember where I got it.) This was something we came back to periodically throughout the unit. On one of the last days of the unit, we went over the correct answers as a class for the first time. After going over the sheet, I asked my students to think back to their reaction when I first gave them the worksheet. Many sort of freaked out and several others were convinced that some of the problems were actually correct. It was fun for me to see them realize they had learned something throughout the unit because they could now correctly do all of the problems.
The rest of the first day we focused on identifying the base and writing things in expanded form. The next several days I spent at least one full day on the product rule, power rule, and quotient rule. The link for the worksheets I used is at the end of this post. Again, I know I modified those worksheets from ones I found somewhere online at one point, but I can’t remember where I found them.
I used this Which One Doesn’t Belong? as a warm-up one day. I’ve really been loving using these as warm-ups this year. I love how much vocab students use while doing these.
About this point in the unit, I was not in my morning class a few days in a row due to state testing with my 6th graders. I was looking for self-checking practice for students on exponent problems. The challenge for me was we hadn’t talked about the zero power yet or negative exponents. Most everything I was finding online included those types of problems. Here’s what I came up with.
I modified Kate Nowak’s row game to work for where my students were at.
I don’t know if “Two Truths and a Lie” is the correct name for the next worksheet I created, but I couldn’t think of another name and was running out of time, so I went with it. Basically, students were to simplify 3 different problems. Two of the problems would have the same answer (the two truths) and the other problem had a different answer (the lie).
I also had a sheet of Yohaku puzzles ready which I LOVED, but I didn’t end up using it then. I did, however, use it later in a few of my classes. I love that there are so many different solutions to these puzzles. I definitely want to look at the other puzzles on that site for future use.
When I was finally back with all classes after state testing, we reviewed using this Desmos activity I created.
I absolutely LOVE this Desmos activity from Mathy Cathy for an introduction to zero and negative exponents.
We ended the unit with some more practice combining all different types of problems.
Here is the link to download the worksheets from this unit.