It’s Time to Graph! Bringing Linear Equations to Life!

Back from Christmas break and I was ready to dive back into my algebra 1 class. The last time we were really together (before midterms, winter break, and winterm) was about a month ago! AH!

Before we left, we were working on linear equations. Today I decided that I wanted to review graphing linear equations from slope-intercept, point-slope, and standard form. Instead of having my students do a worksheet or Delta Math I decided to make the day a little more interesting. For my class of 11, I used tape to create 5 coordinate planes on the ground. Everyone had a partner and there was one group of three. I had my students numbers their axises while I passed out material for the rest of class. Each group also had one whiteboard and one marker.


I handed each group a hand full of tiny paper squares. I created my squares by cutting up a laminated piece of white paper. In the mix of squares, there were also a few blue squares. My students also received a piece of string.

After the materials were passed out, I posted an equation on the board in slope-intercept form. Together, we identified the y-intercept and placed the blue square on that point. Students then used  the slope to find the other points on that line. They marked their points with the white squares. Next, students placed their string through the points they created on their graphs. Placing the string through the points helped students see if they made a mistake while graphing.

For the rest of class, I would place one equation on the board at a time and students would graph their equation. We practice graphing in slope-intercept and then moved to standard and point-slope form. Students used their white boards to change their equations from standard to slope-intercept form. When we got to point-slope form I had students identify the slope and point on their white board before graphing.

I LOVED having students work on their own coordinate plane on the floor. I could walk around and see exactly where students were struggling and could help them right away. I had students mark their intercepts with the blue squares so they could visually see the intercepts. I liked using the squares to mark the different points on the line. If students made a mistake they could easily fix it. I think my students also liked being able to physically plot all of the points and place the string down to create the line. This was a pretty fun review after winter break and a great way for me to assess my students understandings.


Linear Functions Practice with Stations

My algebra 1 class only has 11 students who all work at very different paces. I don’t really like doing traditional stations because they tend to talk and not do their work, especially if the answers are at their table.  I arranged this activity based off of math sprints from I love Math. I changed the activity to focus on everything we’ve focused on this unit.

Each student started off with sheet #1. . I had all of the answers for all four sheets glued on the inside of a folder that I kept upfront with me. When students finished the first sheet they came to me to check their answers. When they got one incorrect I would circle it and send them back to their seats.  When students came to me with a completed and correct sheet they were able to get the next sheet.  I personally thought the sheets became slightly harder as class went on.

Because students were checking their answers with me, I was able to see what each student understood and how they improved throughout the class.Because every student worked at their own pace I was able to help every student. I was also able to see what the class as a whole was struggling on. I’m not sure how this would work in a  larger class, but in my class of 11 very hyperactive students it was perfect! They loved getting to move around and get instant feedback on their work.

At the end of class I had them staple all four sheets together and told them this was their Linear Equation Book (so far). I’ve found that they also love having practice problems and notes all in one place (the more compact the better). I teach very interactive, so students tend not to take detailed notes in my class. I’d rather them be engaged all during class and have this small book of practice problems to refresh their memories.

Their linear equation books include. . .

Sheet #1: Finding slope between two coordinate points

Sheet #2: Graphing Linear Equations

Sheet #3: Finding the equation of a line when given a graph

Sheet #4: Finding Equations of Lines given two coordinate points

I taught students how to find equations of lines given two coordinate points during the beginning of class using a Writing an Equation from 2 Points Template from the Algebra Toolbox Blog. Every student had a template in a sheet protector and a dry erase marker. We did a few together and I walked them through the template. I then put coordinates on the board and had students create equations by themselves.  After every equation, we would check them! My students love to compete against each other so they would race to see who finished first. They love the template, but it’s been difficult weaning them off of it. I plan to have them journal quickly at the beginning of class about what they are actually doing in the template to gage their understanding.