Engaging students: Slope-intercept form of a line

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission comes from my former student Fidel Gonzales. His topic, from Algebra I: the point-slope intercept form of a line.

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How can technology (YouTube, Khan Academy [khanacademy.org], Vi Hart, Geometers Sketchpad, graphing calculators, etc.) be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

Note: It’s not enough to say “such-and-such is a great website”; you need to explain in some detail why it’s a great website.

Technology is always advancing right in front of us. Using it in the classroom can be a tool that allows students to have a more hands on experience in the classroom. When I was in middle school, the only tool that we had to learn slope intercept form of a line was using a ti-inspire calculator. However, schools are receiving more funding and can provide students with tablets or computers to assist in their academic career. Gizmos is a website that contains many user-friendly programs that a student can use to learn a concept, or an educator can present to reinforce a skill. For the topic of slope intercept form of a line, the gizmo has two sliding parts that allows the user to change the values of the equation. One for the slope and one for the y- intercept. The student can adjust the values of both and observe the changes that occur to the line. This experience is more user friendly since it only allows the person to change those two aspects compared to having to input the equation each time into the graphing calculator. The reason that students would be more likely to be engaged is because they are already used to technology and there is still a need to incorporate technology into the classroom. So, students would prefer using a computer compared to the traditional paper and pencil. Imagine them having to graph by hand each graph to compare differences!

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How could you as a teacher create an activity or project that involves your topic?

Slope intercept form is a way that data can be displayed. The data is usually continuously decreasing or continuously increasing. There is a magnitude of activities that can be used to help students gather a better understanding of the topic. As an educator, I would create a scavenger hunt that displayed either a word problem or a graph. Both will ask for the student to represent the information as slope intercept form. For each problem, there will be 4 answer choices that the student could choose for their answer. On their worksheet, there will be fill in the blanks that will be filled up from the letter that is in front of the correct answer. As the student progresses to the next problem, they will be filling out the letter blanks in a random order. So, if the person does the activity correctly, they should end up with the correct word phrase. The word phrase will be a math pun to add to the magic. This activity will allow students to switch from graph and word problems to slope intercept form.

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How does this topic extend what your students should have learned in previous courses?

As educators, we want to ensure that our students have the proper foundation to continue advancing their mathematic skills. Slope intercept form is an algebra base lesson. The skills that students used to reach this topic is addition. At a young age, students learn to count numbers in repeated increments. An example of this is when a student keeps adding 5 until they reach a certain number. Displaying this as slope intercept would be a line with no y intercept and a slope of 5. We have even used y intercepts in context to adding in past classes. An example of this would be a person wanting to sell 200 dollars’ worth of tickets that are worth 5 dollars each and they already started with 57 dollars. If they were to solve the problem using slope intercept form, they would put 200 as the y value and 57 as the y intercept of the problem. The slope would be 5. In the past, they would add 5 to 57 until they reach their goal. Slope intercept form is a way for students to display data with a constant increasing or decreasing value. It is more convenient for students to use slope intercept form compared to how they displayed the pattern in the past. They use it now since they learned why it works before they reach algebra.




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