Exponents are one of the most difficult topics to teach because once you understand how they work, it seems so obvious. And once you understand something to the point of it being obvious, your memory of how difficult it was to learn and what caused problems is almost entirely erased.
To “Get It,” with exponents a balance between conceptual understanding and procedural efficiency must be struck. This balance is probably more important with exponents than any other topic in Algebra 1. This is because sometimes one method or technique of simplifying an exponential expression will be fluid and pain-free. Another problem the same method will lead to confusion and head-ache.
In order for students to be well versed in exponents they must see multiple ways of approaching each problem. They must understand where all of the “rules” come from, why they’re true and how they’re related to repeated multiplication.
In the video below I will discuss some of my specific points of emphasis with respect to exponents as well as some general math-teaching tricks you can use.
So, if you’d like to use my PowerPoint, feel free to download it here. Make it your own, change graphics, add bellwork, whatever you decide. The only thing I ask is you share where you found it and let me know how it went.
Keep in mind, this might be more than one day for your class, depending on class duration, aptitude and other factors. If this material could not be covered in one day I would strongly advise creating some quality homework that forces them to think about what has been learned so far. Homework is not just practice, it is for learning!
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As always, thank you for reading.