We’re working on exponent properties in my 8th grade class and were talking about multiplying expressions with exponents and students had just generalized a rule by examining examples and non-examples. I gave students a few basic problems first, then told them we were going to step the difficulty up, which a lot of them got really excited about. They wanted a challenge. So I put a few problems on the board that at first glance freaked some of the students out, but they started working on them. This year I’m focusing on having students work individually first, then share with their groups. As I circulated while they shared with their groups, one of my students (who I have known since she was in 5th grade and has always struggled with math) had a big smile on her face. When I checked in with her group, it turns out she had simplified one of the expressions and her answer matched the rest of her group’s answers, which they had determined was correct. She was really excited about it and said to me, “Look Mr. M, I did it!” I felt great for her.