Engaging students: Laws of Exponents

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission comes from my former student Claire McMahon. Her topic, from Pre-Algebra: the Laws of Exponents (with integer exponents) green line

These laws are essential not only in math classes but in science classes as well.  The laws of exponents are essential when learning scientific notation and important facts like Avogadro’s constant.  This is just one of the important facts that students will encounter as they enter the world of exponents.  There is a really awesome lesson plan devoted to finding this enormous number at the following website here.  I implemented this in a classroom that called for an interdisciplinary lesson plan and had great success with it.

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There are some really cool videos that deal with the laws of exponents and I love to incorporate music wherever I can in my math classes.  This is one of my favorite videos that I came across as I was trying to reach for things to help engage my students in the middle of math class.  Watch this YouTube video and see if you think you would enjoy showing this to your class.  Even better for your class would be to create a video like this in a project.

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I love to also find some great online activities that I can give to my students that are not too intensive but give them some great confidence in understanding.  There are a few different websites that I have found to be very useful and somewhat cute!!  I do want my students to have a basic understanding on how the laws of exponents work but we all get better at math by DOING math.  This website gives you some great practice on laws of exponents with the same base and has a cute little monster to cheer you on along the activity!  I am also a big fan of foldables and have found a great one on the internet to utilize for your class.  It’s always fun to create something in math class that you would normally do in kindergarten!!  Cutting and folding and making something your own is an awesome way to drive a topic and even to make a homework assignment fun.  A foldable for the laws of exponents can be found here.

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