Day 126: Speed Dating

Algebra still needed some practice on Properties of Exponents. Yesterday, I passed around answer keys to a worksheet students had. There ended up being a few mistakes on the answer key. Two periods passed without any students picking up on those. To me this says that most students straight up copied off them then called it a day.

So today students experienced speed dating; here is how things went.

  • I passed out a note card to each student
    • There was one expression on each side, a black one (the problem) and an orange one (the answer).
  • On a sheet of paper students simplified the expression in black.
  • A couple minutes passed
  • They then flipped their note card over and checked their answer (Almost every student actually listened here or didn’t recognize that the answer was on the backside)
  • We moved the room around into two long rows of desks, facing one another.
  • I set a timer for two minutes, during that time one student held up the side of their note card with black ink and the person across from them simplified, if they were wrong they tried again.
  • Timer goes off, repeat 10-15 times

This is the bare bones of the activity. I played it up a lot before hand and told ’em about how they needed to be masters of solving the problem in black ink. They had to own the problem and know it inside and out.

A couple other things I said: “You can’t just give your heart, or answer in this case, away to the person, they need to understand you”  

“While they are trying to get to know you, just hold up the problem and smile back, helping them along the way”

“If you didn’t have a good experience with a person that is okay, move on, another may work out better for you”

I also mixed things up a bit by playing a cheesy gong sound that I found on Youtube at the end of each session.


The main reason I liked this activity: Quite a few students struggled with their problem, throughout the period, they were able to see other students struggle with the same problem, but this time help others out in understanding it. Also, students were able to get immediate feedback and self correct. I heard a lot of comments today about how students didn’t get the problems at first but they became easier after practice.

Two of my four algebra classes seemed to really like the activity, while the other half never wanted to do it again. I know for a fact though that 90% of my students walked away from today knowing more about exponent properties.


Day 114: All About That Base

Algebra is starting exponents. Yet again, I pulled an opening activity from Dan. This time it came from a video.

Here is a quick rundown

  • Ask students to break 25 down into as many pieces as they want.
  • Multiply those pieces.
  • Talk to a neighbor, compare.
  • Who has the largest?

This took a good 15-20 minutes till students were satisfied and convinced their number was the largest. Almost every period settled on a different number. I am not going to push them to reach one magical number.

It got tiring and time consuming to write 2(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(1) into the calculator and on papers so eventually the idea of 2¹²(1) came up instead writing all those 2s. This lead really well into talk about exponents.

Day 71: Exponent Opener

On Tuesday I gave geometry the following opener.


I let them think about it for 5 minutes or so. After I asked them for smaller cases. We looked at 2^8 vs 8^2 since some were claiming whichever number had the larger base would have the larger value.

After a few more minutes of discussion they plugged them into their calculators and checked their claims as to which was larger. The issue was the answers were all in scientific notation, sure it says a lot about how much larger one is than other, but students were not able to see how larger the numbers actually were.

So I pulled up Wolfram Alpha.


What students found most interesting was the number name. I had no idea these existed… We tried to find where a google would be….


This turned out to be a fun opener!