They always struggle if there are radicals or x's in the denominator or fractional exponents. I have tried in the past to get them to rewrite the f(x) first as axb. But after they nod their heads "yea yea", they go back to messing up.
Quiz Quiz Trade to the rescue. They get practice, and they have to explain, and they have another student helping them, and they want to understand. I think it helped this year, since I had less questions when they started their homework.
Here is my template for cards that looked like this:
Quiz Quiz Trade Rules:
You have to model this and keep an eye on them and move them along.
1. You raise your hand high when you need a new partner and you search for
another hand and you pair off.
2. You greet each other with eye contact (social skills)
3. One person holds their card, question side facing partner.
4. The quiz-ee tries to answer it.
5. If correct, you praise the quiz-ee (social skill).
6. If wrong, you give hints on how to get to answer .... until answer correct,
7. The quiz-ee is now the quiz-or and does 3-6.
8. When both done, TRADE. and go to 1.