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Exponent Rules Match-Up Activity

I ran across this exponent rules match-up activity in the Algebra Activities Instructor’s Resource Binder from Maria Andersen. It was published by Cengage in 2011. I thought it would make the perfect review activity for exponent rules for my Algebra 2 students.

Copy of Exponent Rules Match Up Activity Worksheet.

I did find a copy of the activity uploaded online (page 7 of this pdf). Students are given a grid of 20 exponent rule problems. They are intentionally designed to look very similar. Each of the expressions evaluates to one of 5 options (one of the options is none of these). This is called the “Match Up on Tricky Exponent Rules.” I have linked to a similar activity for more basic exponent rules at the end of this post!

ABCDE Cards for Exponent Rules Match-Up Activity

Though this was meant to be used as a worksheet, I decided to change things up a bit and make it a whole-class activity. Exponent rules are one of those strange topics that I need to cover in Algebra 2 that aren’t actually in the Algebra 2 standards because it is assumed that students mastered them when they were covered in the 8th grade standards. However, I find that many of my Algebra 2 students freeze up when they see negative exponents!

Properties of Exponents Chart.

I decided to use this exponent rules match-up activity in lieu of my normal exponent rules re-teaching lesson. Instead of re-teaching the rules that they have all seen before (and since forgotten), I just handed each student an exponent rules summary sheet, this exponent rules match-up activity, and a set of ABCDE cards printed on colored cardstock.

Student working on Exponent Rules Match-Up Activity

I explained to my Algebra 2 students that we needed to review our exponent rules before moving onto the next few topics we were going to cover (mainly radicals/rational exponents and exponentials/logarithms). I reminded them that they had worked with exponent rules previously in 8th grade, and I wanted to see what they remembered.

Student holding up card for Exponent Rules Match-Up Activity

I had each student work out the first problem on their own. If they were confused, they could reference the exponent rules sheet I had given them. After about a minute had passed, I had each student hold up the letter that corresponded to the answer they had gotten. This gave me a chance to get a feel for how well the class understood that type of question before I worked out the question on my Wacom tablet. We discussed common pitfalls along the way.

student holding up card for Exponent Rules Match-Up Activity

Student confidence grew with each question we worked through, and soon some students began working ahead. I enjoyed this much more than a boring re-teaching of exponent rules. I think my students benefited much more from it as well.

Students knew they needed to be paying extra close attention to my explanations for the problems they had missed. Plus, they were able to immediately take what they had learned on one problem and apply it to the next.

This resource binder has many more match-up activities in it for other topics that I look forward to using with students in the future. If you are teaching younger students or teaching exponent rules for the first time, the book also has a match-up activity on basic exponent rules. I have never used it with students, but you can take a look at it on page 16 of this PDF.