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Mathematics Matters Lesson Accounts 11 - The Laws of Indices

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 27 May 2008 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 16 June 2008 by ncetm_administrator

Mathematics Matters Lesson Accounts
A collection of memorable mathematics lessons that conference and colloquia delegates had observed or taught which they felt were successful.  Each account refers to one or more of the values and principles in the report.

Lesson Account 11 - The Laws of Indices

Written by Damian Griffith
Organisation Failsworth School
Age/Ability Range Year 10 set 1 (KS4)

How was the session/task introduced?
The session was introduced as an opportunity for pupils to consolidate learning from the previous lesson (indices). They were informed that during the lesson there will be a lot of discussion and teaching of peers. The classroom was arranged in fours. On each table there were two problems on a piece of card. The pupils were then asked to solve a problem in pairs and then explain to the other pair on the table how the solution was reached. Once this was completed students were asked to raise their hands until another table of four had competed and explained their problem. When two tables had raised their hands they were then required to swap seats and attempt to answer the question on that table and again explain the answer to the other pair. This process continued until they had visited each of the eight tables and explained one solution and had one explained to them. Finally, they were then asked to write a problem of their own which would be sent to another table for them to solve.

How was the session/task sustained?
As outlined above the task was sustained through the carousel nature of the activity and the continuous process of discussion and reflection, the cycle of explaining and being explained to.

How was the session/task concluded?
The session was concluded when students were able to invent their own question for another team to solve. This involved self esteem, motivation and confidence in pupils.

What were the critical moments?

  • Pupils on task throughout the lesson.
  • All pupils engaged, nowhere for pupils to decide to opt out of learning.
  • Teacher assumed role of facilitator.
  • All misconceptions identified and corrected by the students themselves.

What mathematics was learnt? (on plan and off plan) and what is the evidence of learning?

  • The laws of indices, including fractional indices.
  • How to multiply and divide indices.

How was that mathematics learnt?
The mathematics was learnt through a practical activity where pupils discussed and worked collaboratively to solve a problem.

Other memorable outcomes
The retention of the students increased / was demonstrated by pupils who were asked to invent another problem as the same topic a week later as a starter activity.

  • Students learnt:
  • How to give and receive praise.
  • How to coach and teach other pupils.

None specified


Downloadable PDF

Click here to download this lesson account in PDF format.

Values & Principles

Fluency in recalling facts and performing skills
Conceptual understanding and interpretations for representations
Strategies for investigation and problem solving
Builds on the knowledge learners already have
Exposes and discusses common misconceptions and other surprising phenomena
Uses higher-order questions
Encourages reasoning rather than ‘answer getting’

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Lesson Accounts Introduction

Mathematics Matters - What constitutes the effective learning of mathematics? find out more


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27 June 2010 21:49
any examples of the problems used?
By mfox195628
         Alert us about this comment  
26 June 2010 20:46
Are the resources used available on the site?
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