Engaging students: Graphs of linear equations

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 again comes from my former student Nada Al-Ghussain. Her topic, from Algebra: graphs of linear equations.

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

Positive slope, negative slope, no slope, and undefined, are four lines that cross over the coordinate plane. Boring. So how can I engage my students during the topic of graphs of linear equations, when all they can think of is the four images of slope? Simple, I assign a project that brings out the Individuality and creativity of each student. Something to wake up their minds!

An individualized image-graphing project. I would give each student a large coordinate plane, where they will graph their picture using straight lines only. I would ask them to use only points at intersections, but this can change to half points if needed. Then each student will receive an Equation sheet where they will find and write 2 equations for each different type of slope. So a student will have equations for two horizontal lines, vertical lines, positive slope, and negative slope. The best part is the project can be tailored to each class weakness or strength. I can also ask them to write the slop-intercept form, point slope form, or to even compare slopes that are parallel or perpendicular. When they are done, students would have practiced graphing and writing linear equations many times using their drawn images. Some students would be able to recognize slopes easier when they recall this project and their specific work on it.

 

Example of a project template:

 

projecttemplate

Examples of student work:

studentwork2

 

studentwork1

 

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How has this topic appeared in the news?

 

Millions of people tune in to watch the news daily. Information is poured into our ears and images through our eyes. We cannot absorb it all, so the news makes it easy for us to understand and uses graphs of linear equations. Plus, the Whoa! Factor of the slopping lines is really the attention grabber. News comes in many forms either through, TV, Internet, or newspaper. Students can learn to quickly understand the meaning of graphs with the different slopes the few seconds they are exposed to them.

 

On television, FOX news shows a positive slope of increasing number of job losses through a few years. (Beware for misrepresented data!)

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A journal article contains the cost of college increase between public and private colleges showing the negative slope of private costs decreasing.

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Most importantly line graphs can help muggles, half bloods, witches, and wizards to better understand the rise and decline of attractive characters through the Harry Potter series.

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How can this topic be used in your students’ future courses in mathematics or science?

 

Students are introduced to simple graphs of linear equations where they should be able to name and find the equation of the slope. In a student’s future course with computers or tablets, I would use the Desmos graphing calculator online. This tool gives the students the ability to work backwards. I would ask a class to make certain lines, and they will have to come up with the equation with only their knowledge from previous class. It would really help the students understand the reason behind a negative slope and positive slope plus the difference between zero slope and undefined. After checking their previous knowledge, students can make visual representations of graphing linear inequalities and apply them to real-world problems.

 

References:

http://www.hoppeninjamath.com/teacherblog/?p=217

http://walkinginmathland.weebly.com/teaching-math-blog/animal-project-graphing-linear-lines-and-stating-equations

http://mediamatters.org/research/2012/10/01/a-history-of-dishonest-fox-charts/190225

http://money.cnn.com/2010/10/28/pf/college/college_tuition/

http://dailyfig.figment.com/2011/07/13/harry-potter-in-charts/

https://www.desmos.com/calculator

 

 

 

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 again comes from my former student Kelley Nguyen. Her topic, from Algebra: slope-intercept form of a line.

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How has this topic appeared in high culture (art, classical music, theatre, etc.)?

 

The slope-intercept form of a line is a linear function. Linear functions are dealt with in many ways in everyday life, some of which you probably don’t even notice.

 

One example where the slope-intercept form of a line appears in high culture is through music and arts. Suppose a band wants to book an auditorium for their upcoming concert. As most bands do, they meet with the manager of the location, book a date, and determine a payment. Let’s say it costs $1,500 to rent the building for 2 hours. In addition to this fee, the band earns 20% of each $30 ticket sold. Write an equation that determines whether the band made profit or lost money due to the number of tickets sold – the equation would be y = 0.2(30)x – 1500, where y is the amount gained or lost and x is the number of tickets sold that night. This can also help the band determine their goal on how many tickets to sell. If they want to make a profit of $2,000, they would have to sell x-many tickets to accomplish that.

 

In reality, most arts performances make a profit from their shows or concerts. Not only do mathematicians and scientists use slope-intercept of a line, but with this example, it shows up in many types of arts and real-world situations. Not only does the form work for calculating cost or profit, it can relate to the number of seats in a theatre, such as x rows of 30 seats and a VIP section of 20 seats. The equation to find how many seats are available in the theatre is y = 30x + 20, where x is the number of rows.

 

 

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How can technology be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

 

A great way to engage students when learning about slope-intercept form of a line is to use Geometer’s Sketchpad. After opening a graph with an x- and y-axis, use the tools to create a line. From there, you can drag the line up or down and notice that the slope increases as you move upward and decreases as you move downward. Students can also find the equation of the line by selecting the line, clicking “Measure” in the menu bar, and selecting “Equation” in the drop-down list. This gives the students an accurate equation of the line they selected in slope-intercept form. Geometer’s Sketchpad allows students to experiment and explore directions of lines, determine whether or not it has an increasing slope, and help create a visual image for positive and negative slopes.

 

Also, with this program, students can play a matching game with slope-intercept equations and lines. You will instruct the student to create five random lines that move in any direction. Next, they will select all of the lines, go to “Measure” in the menu bar, and click “Equation.” From there, it’ll give them the equation of each line. Then, the student will go back and select the lines once again, go to “Edit” on the menu bar, hover over “Action Buttons,” and select “Hide/Show.” Once a box comes up, they will click the “Label” tab and type Scramble Lines in the text line. Next, the lines will scramble and stop when clicked on. Once the lines are done scrambling, the student could then match the equations with their lines. This activity gives the students the chance to look at equations and determine whether the slope is increasing and decreasing and where the line hits the y-axis.

 

 

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

 

With this topic, I could definitely do a project that consists of slope-intercept equations, their graphs, and word problems that involve computations. For example, growing up, some students had to earn money by doing chores around the house. Parents give allowance on daily duties that their children did.

 

The project will give the daily amount of allowance that each student earned. With that, say the student needed to reach a certain amount of money before purchasing the iPad Air. In part one of the project, the student will create an equation that reflects their daily allowing of $5 and the amount of money they have at the moment. In part two, the student will construct a graph that shows the rate of their earnings, supposing that they don’t skip a day of chores. In part three, the students will answer a series of questions, such as,

  • What will you earn after a week?
  • What is your total amount of money after that week?
  • When will you have enough money to buy that iPad Air at $540 after tax?

 

This would be a short project, but it’s definitely something that the students can do outside of class as a fun activity. It can also help them reach their goals of owning something they want and making a financial plan on how to accomplish that.

 

References

 

 

 

 

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 Theresa (Tress) Kringen. Her topic, from Algebra I: the point-slope intercept form of a line.

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What interesting word problem using this topic can your students do now?

When learning about slope-intercept from of a line, word problems would help my students engage and help process the information in a real world situation. I would present an equation for the speed of a ball that is thrown in a straight line up into the air. The equation given: v= 128-32t. I would explain that because we’re working with time and speed, height is not a variable in the equation. With v representing the speed or velocity of the ball in feet per second and t representing the time in seconds that has passed. I would include the following questions:

1. What is the slope of the given equation? Since the equation is given in slope intercept form, the students should be able to give the answer quickly if they understood the lesson. The answer is -32.

2. Without graphing the equation, which way would the line be headed, up and to the right or down and to the right? Because the students know that the slope is negative and given that they understood the lesson, they should be able to answer that the line is decreasing and is headed down and to the right.

http://www.purplemath.com/modules/slopyint.htm

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How can this topic be used in your students’ future courses in mathematics or science?

Students can use this topic for many math or science courses. When dealing with a linear equation, slope-intercept form of a line can help the student understand what the graph looks like without actually graphing it. This is useful when needing to find the y intercept (when x is equal to zero) and what the slope of the line is. This is also useful to know for understanding what slope is. When students understand that a slope of a particularly large number (a large whole number such as 1,000 or an improper fraction that equates to a large number such as 30,999/2) is rising quickly as opposed to a slope of a smaller number  (a smaller whole number such as two or a fraction that represents a very small portion of one such as 1/30,000) which is not rising quickly. It is helpful for the students to understand that a very large slope will look almost vertical and a small slope will look almost horizontal, with both depending on the degree of largeness or smallness.

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How can technology be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

When working with slope-intercept form, a student can actively be engaged through technology by attempting to make connections of how a graph looks on the graphing calculator and what the equation looks like in slope-intercept form. When allowing the students to make connections between them in small groups, they will have discovered the information form themselves. This will allow the students to more effectively program the information into their memories. To set this up, I would give each group a graphing calculator and a list of equations in slope-intercept form. On the paper with the list, I would have the students fill out information pertaining to the graph that they see. This information would include the slope and the y-intercept. I would split up the students into their cooperative learning groups two and ask them to draw a conclusion between where the line ends up compared to what the equation looks like. Once the students have typed their equation into the graphing calculator the students should fill out the paper provided. Once they have finished, I would ask them to see if they see any patterns between the equations and their answers.

 

Engaging students: Finding x- and y-intercepts

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 again comes from my former student Maranda Edmonson. Her topic, from Algebra: finding x- and y-intercepts. Unlike most student submissions, Maranda’s idea answers three different questions at once.

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

Culture: How has this topic appeared in pop culture (movies, TV, current music, video games, etc.)?

Technology: How can technology be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

This link is to a reflection by a mathematics teacher who used the popular TV show “The Big Bang Theory” to teach linear functions. She taught this lesson prior to teaching students about finding y-intercepts of linear functions, but it can be adapted in order to teach how to find the intercepts themselves.

ENGAGE:

One thing I would not change would be to show the students the above clip of the show where Howard and Sheldon are heatedly discussing crickets at the beginning of the activity. By showing the video at the beginning, students will be engaged and want to figure out what will be done throughout the lesson. Being a clip of a popular show that many probably watch during the week, students will be even more engaged and interested since they are able to watch something that they are already familiar with. Being something that they are already familiar with or can relate to, students have a tendency to remember the material or at least the topic longer than they would remember something that they were unfamiliar with or could not relate.

In the clip, Sheldon argues that the cricket the guys hear while eating dinner is a snowy tree cricket based on the temperature of the room and the frequency of chirps; Howard argues that it is an ordinary field cricket.  The beginning of their discussion is as follows:

Sheldon: “Based on the number of chirps per minute, and the ambient temperature in this room, it is a snowy tree cricket.”

Howard: “Oh, give me a frickin’ break. How could you possibly know that?”

Sheldon: “In 1890, Amos Dolbear determined that there was a fixed relationship between the number of chirps per minute of the snowy tree cricket and the ambient temperature – a precise relationship that is not present with ordinary field crickets.”

The whole episode revolves around the guys finding the exact genus and species of the cricket, but that is not the importance here. The importance of this clip is the linear relationship between the temperature and the number of chirps per minute of the cricket, which the activity should then be centered around.

EXPLORE:

After showing the short clip, it could be beneficial to show students the Wikipedia link that discusses Dolbear’s Law. Toward the bottom of the page, the relationship is written out in several formats, but there is a basic linear function that students could focus on for the activity.

Assuming students know how to graph linear functions (as stated above, the link is for a lesson the teacher taught before teaching students about y-intercepts), I would have students graph Dolbear’s Law on a piece of graph paper. The challenge would be for students to find out what happens when there are variations to the number of chirps of the cricket, the temperature or both to see how the graph changes – specifically where the graph crosses each axis.

 EXPLAIN/ELABORATE/EVALUATE:

At this point, students should be able to state what changes they noticed with the graph – specifically where the graph crossed the axes as changes are made to the function. After they have explained what they found, fill in any gaps and correct vocabulary as needed. Basically, teach what little there is left for the lesson. Follow-up by providing extra examples or a worksheet for students to practice before giving them a quiz or test to assess their performance.