The Lesson I Used to Teach and Reteach All Year
Year after year, algebra students are initially mystified by simplifying expressions containing exponents… especially when negatives show up. They seem to want to memorize a “trick”, and often generalize things that simply don’t work.
These resources help students identify the base before expanding and simplifying the expressions. Likewise, these sets of problems seamlessly promote a discussion about the impact of even and odd exponents.
Task 1 is a brief warm-up involving only numerical expressions. Having students try this alone, with a partner, using a calculator, or simply using this as a direct-teaching tool are all effective strategies. Simply cut the sheet in half vertically to provide students with a quick activity.
Task 2 provides extra practice for students, including zero as an exponent as well as positive and negative bases raised to even and odd powers. There's also an extension that includes evaluating variable expressions too.
I hope your students also find more clarity on this topic!