Today my Algebra 1 students started to learn about exponents. They’ve briefly worked with exponents in the past, but they have a very basic understanding. The idea for my lesson first came from Sarah Hagan’s Blog. I first asked students to draw seven X’s (I recommend less) on their dry erase boards. My students love using the white boards, so they were really excited when I told them we were going to learn exponent rules through a Zombie Game using the boards. I put the rules on the Smart Board for my students to read while I was explaining the direction. I have found that my students miss a lot of directions if they don’t see it in writing as well as hearing it.
I next used the exponent rules proof worksheets from Don’t Panic, The Answer is 42 to organize the game. My students had all of the sheets in a packet that they had turned over on their desk. I put problems one at a time on the board for students to students to answer in 20 seconds. When time was up they all held up their white boards and I reveled the answer. My students then had 15 seconds to go erase an X from someone’s board if they got the answer correct. This is the point where this game got a little crazy. My class of 11 started running all over the place trying to erase their friends X’s. My students realize they needed to “defend” their X’s so they start trying to hide their boards from each other. It order to get my students back in their seats in time I told them if they weren’t in their seats by the end of my countdown then I would take one of their X’s. I split the game into 3 sections that covered four exponent rules, and their were 4 questions in each section. When each section was over they would complete the page in the packet dealing with that rule. Students would have to find a different partner for each rule. I told my students that completing each page was a necessity for surviving the zombie apocalypse. Students were only given5 minutes to work on each worksheet, so they were all very focused to complete it. After they completed each worksheet we would come up with an algebraic rule together and then move on to the next rule. During class today we were able to cover the Product Rule, the Distributive Property of Products, the Quotient Rule, and Zero Exponent Rule.
This activity was great because it gave students the opportunity to explore the exponent rules and understand where they come from through a worksheet, but also have fun solving practice problems in order to survive the apocalypse. I was going back and forth between which order to organize this lesson. I decided to give my students practice and exploration problems on the board before they even knew they were working on a certain exponent rule. When they started working on each worksheet they already felt confident on what to do because they just saw a few examples.
If I were to do this activity again I would position the room so students wouldn’t trip and hop of over desks and chairs trying to get each other. My class got a little wild trying to make their peers Zombies. I would also create more rules in the beginning (no running, yelling, standing on chair, ect,). I wasn’t anticipating on how rowdy they would get. Over all I think that this was a very successful lesson. Students stayed engaged the whole time!