Man oh man, I am stoked to start teaching Monday. I am dying to provide these students with an opportunity to play with and create (stolen from @mrschirles) math. I am a little apprehensive to take over since over the past week there has been very little structure in terms of expectations, learning and discipline. I already knew that classroom management would be a challenge but it is obvious there will be plenty of opportunities to perfect my skills. *Is it too idealistic to think that if I just motivate and engage these students enough they won’t sleep, eat, or listen to their ipods?* Probably.

I am also torn because my co-op uses a lot of direct instruction. Suddenly I find my thoughts gearing towards* “How are you supposed to teach PSSA prep without direct instruction followed by individual practice tests in booklet?”* This scares me. How do I expect kids to be motivated if *I* can’t even get creative and motivated for this stuff? This morning I scoured blogs for discussions on standardized test prep, teaching exponents, scientific notation and engagement. No luck – will keep looking.

So far my plan will go as follows:

**“Engage”:** I was considering putting a doubling question up which will most likely have them struggle for the first 1-3 minutes… unfortunately I do not think this is engaging unless that doubling question has to do with extremely relevant topics, this would only serve to get them working and thinking quickly. However I also know these kids are not used to struggling and getting them into the habit of using their prior knowledge, thinking and linking ideas on their own before I teach will probably come with great resistance.

**Properties of exponents:** In the past I have taught negative exponents and zero power using inductive reasoning – based off of this video I found a while ago. For some students it works great, for others not so much and I usually show another mini-proof by using the properties of division to reenforce as well.

This summer when I finished teaching exponents I discovered a great worksheet on a blog but now I can’t find it again. Let’s just consider it some mathematical mirage – one of those resources I wish I would’ve tagged but am not even sure if it really exists. This summer I created one based on of Kate Nowak’s log laws worksheet. I found my worksheet took too long and was not as “guided discovery” as I had hoped, still needs tweaking.

**Scientific Notation: ** My main idea is to ensure I am not teaching memorization – go left/go right! I really want to show students that it multiplication and use the properties of exponents to help guide this. Individually they will complete practice test problems from the book individually but check answers/strategies with their partner when finished. Ask each other first before they ask me/co-op.

All feedback appreciated!!

on September 12, 2011 at 10:29 pm |Sara Phillips (@PanglossCritic)You would be surprised how much simply engaging kids cuts down on misbehavior. It’s like if the are marginally absorbed in a task, they actually forget about their phone for 3.2 seconds!

I like your exponent sheet. Just asking them to find the pattern is a huge improvement over direct instruction. My co-op actually groaned when I did something like this last year in my placement. The kids hated it at first, but ultimately I think it was a good thing. I’d be interested to know how it goes.

on September 17, 2011 at 8:20 pm |Serafina Chinappi (@serafinac)A little late, perhaps, but this is how I have taught exponent rules every year I have taught thus far. It engages the students because it’s something they all can do, and they’ll feel really great about it when they construct their own understanding. This year, however, I will be introducing the topic with a more problem-based approach, rather than a “do this, find a pattern”-approach.

on September 18, 2011 at 12:04 am |Molly Kate@Serafina, would love to hear more about your lesson or see your worksheets on the problem-based approach. I would prefer this. See my post (https://mathemagicalmolly.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/relax-its-okay-to-be-wrong/) to see what I actually ended up doing with exponents and let me know what you think!