Properties of Exponents

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SWBAT fine-tune and extend their knowledge of the rules of exponents to new settings as they prepare to work with higher-order polynomials.

Big Idea

Identify and target your students' prior knowledge gaps in this introductory lesson.

Entry Activity

10 minutes

As the students enter the classroom, I circulate the entry activity for the period.  This short 10 question quiz (worth zero points) helps refresh the students knowledge of the rules of exponents.  Although these rules are present as Algebra I standards, the students likely need to brush up on a few of the skills that will be essential for their future success.  This lesson DOES NOT involve re-teaching these skills completely, but instead helps to identify weaknesses and extend prior knowledge.  I am not interested in turning Algebra II into Algebra I, but do want to ensure that my students have the prerequisite skills needed to be successful. 


I form the rest of my lesson around the results of this entry activity.  As the students complete the task, I rotate the room to see how my plan should be adapted. 

Grading the Entry Activity

5 minutes

After taking the quiz, I have the students talk to me about their responses.  Student understanding will fall into one of three categories:

1)  The student will have the correct answer. 

2)  The student will have the wrong answer, but will remember the mathematical property after the correct answer is revealed.

3)  The student will have no idea why the answer is wrong.


I allow the students to keep their papers as we work through the answers.  When a response is given, I have the students place a 1 beside the question if the answer is correct, a 2 beside the question if the answer is incorrect but they understand it after seeing the correct answer, or a 3 beside the question if their answer is incorrect and they have no idea why. 

After reading the answers, I quickly walk the room noting which problems the students had the most 3's on - and tailor the next part of my lesson to fit these needs.

Workshop: Identifying Properties through Samples

15 minutes


15 minutes


Following the workshop, I circulate the homework assignment and allow the students to work.  During this time that I leverage my classroom observations in the lesson targeting support to students who have self-identified gaps in their knowledge or whom I noted still require extra support or scaffolding.  I make it a point to check up on these students as I walk about the classroom.  

Depending on how much time is left, I intend to allow my students the opportunity to check and correct at least one other person's work.  This is a strategy that I borrowed from a colleague and want to try out. To earn a point on the homework assignment, each student must either give a correction or receive a correction on a problem that they have completed.  This encourages a culture of collaboration (MP3) as well as reasoning and critical thinking (MP7).  Once the student has done this, he/she signs the bottom of the other person's page.  If nothing else, it gets the students speaking to each other mathematically!