Blog posts I have written previously have focussed on resources I have made, examples of pupil work, activities that were successful and anything else related to teaching and learning (including classroom decorating). The same could be said for Twitter – positive messages to share great things happening in my classroom.

However, not every day is a great day. There are lessons which go wrong for many reasons. Days when I feel like I’m right back at the start and feel completely lost.

It is important to share the lessons that didn’t go to plan, to share days where I’ve struggled just to make it to the end of the day. Teaching is hard. Teaching is demanding. Teaching is learning.

So here is the first of my lesson fails.

**Indices Investigation**

I had planned an introductory lesson on indices which would involve pupils investigating some of the laws of indices. The class had prior knowledge of how to write powers in expanded form. The worksheet looked like this:

My intention was that pupils, working in pairs, would write numbers and letters in expanded form and then generalize the results. Perfect, right!

However, in reality, whenever a pair reached the “generalize your results” part they would call me for help. They had no experience of this type of question and didn’t understand what to do. I explained it to pair after pair, then stopped and explained to the whole class.

I thought at this point that the pupils would be able to proceed with the rest of the investigation. I was wrong. They struggled all the way through and at the end of the lesson I reflected on a few things.

- the pupils were more confused by indices than they were at the start
- I had done more work then the pupils had
- I had wasted a period of their class time
- I was going to have to reteach the rules again

This lead me to the realization that sometimes teaching “what” before the “why” would have been far more useful.

This doesn’t mean I will never use investigative approaches again but that I will need to ensure my pupils have a clearer understanding of how to tackle them.

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*Related*

I found this activity to be a great exploration of some exponent rules.

https://www.illustrativemathematics.org/content-standards/6/EE/A/1/tasks/2225

There are some more on this website.

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Thanks. I’ll check them out.

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