Dyslexia: Multiplication with exponents using variable bases from the gr9 Math curriculum in Ontario

For Parent

Multiplication with Exponents Using Variable Bases

At its core, the concept of multiplication with exponents using variable bases is quite simple. In mathematics, an exponent is a number used to indicate how many times something is multiplied by itself. The base of an exponent is the number that is being multiplied. When the base of an exponent is a variable, it means that it can be a different number each time.

For example, in the equation x^2 * x^3, x is the base and 2 and 3 are the exponents. This means that x is being multiplied by itself two times and then three times. Solving this equation would look like this:

x*x*x*x*x = x^5

If the 14 year old with dyslexia is having trouble understanding this concept, there are a few things that the parent can do to support them.

Using Visuals to Understand Equations

A common issue for people with Dyslexia is difficulty understanding complex written or numerical information. To help with this, the parent can provide visuals to make complex equations more approachable. For example, if the equation is x^2*x^3, the parent can draw a picture of two boxes and three boxes, labeled as x^2 and x^3. Then, they can explain that this means two boxes of x and three boxes of x, which makes five boxes in total.

Verbalization & Writing Down Steps

Another issue a person with Dyslexia may face is difficulty verbalizing equations. To help with this, the parent can have the student verbalize the steps of the equation out loud. For example, for the equation x^2*x^3, the student can say “x squared times x cubed equals x to the fifth.” Doing this regularly can help the student become more comfortable with this concept. Additionally, the parent can have the student write down the steps of the equation to cement the information and help them to better understand it.

Break Down Solutions into Smaller Steps

The last common issue a person with dyslexia may face is difficulty understanding and applying equations on their own. To help with this, the parent can break down the equation into smaller, more manageable steps. For example, if the student is trying to understand and solve x^2 * x^3, the parent can first explain the equation as two boxes of x and three boxes of x equals five boxes and then have the student rewrite the equation as “x times x times x times x times x equals x^5.” Breaking down the equation like this can help the student better understand it and make it easier for them to work through the equation on their own.

Equation for reference: x^2 * x^3

Sample question and answer: If x^2 * x^3, what is the value of x?

x^5.