Walk this Line

submitted by: Atlee Zipf
on Tue Nov 29 21:08:52 2005

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Course: Algebra 1
Topic: Equation of a line
Resource type: Activity
Catalogue entry:
http://mathforum.org/mathtools/
Resource location:
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Story:
  I am a college student who wants to be a math teacher and for one of my classes we went to teach in the schools around the university. I went to teach a lesson using a graphing calculator to find the equations of a line with a hands on approach. First I will list what I did and then follow that up with how it went and then last would be things I might have changed to make it flow easier.

I started off the activity with calling a student up to walk away from the sensor that was attached to the graphing calculator. This was up on the overhead so that whole class could see it. Then after a little exploration having the students walk to and from the sensor so the students could observe the difference in how the graph appeared on the overhead. This was followed up with a worksheet that had 8 different graphs and it was the studentís responsibility to describe how they would have to walk to form the line that was shown. On this sheet there were many different graphs including 2 or 3 that were not functions so they would be impossible to say how you would do that with the sensor because the sensor which obliviously would not be able to chart 2 distances at once because it would observe the first point. Next I called one of the other student aids to the front and had him walk a line that the students would use as a guideline for there own graph with their own data. This was followed by the students in pairs coming to the front of the room with and then one of them would record the data and the other partner would walk the line to form the graph. On another work sheet there was an area to write the graph for there group and the purpose of the worksheet were for them to discover the idea of slope and how to calculate slope. This took up the whole class period with the students each having their own data with their partner.

I believe that this lesson went very well and was very effective in having the students discover the idea of slope and also being able to see a real life example of this. This could easily be applied to a car driving down the road as opposed to just being a kid walking across the classroom. I liked the that fact that every kid was able to get there own data collected as to make them feel more a part of it because I have observed that if kids arenít made to participate then some will just not pay any attention. I also really enjoyed the group discussion we had about the graphs on the first worksheet and how you are able to make those graphs. They really enjoyed trying to replicate the graphs from the sheet and that was a great laugh for everyone. While it is really important to have good classroom management I also believe that kids pay more attention if they have more fun. I also liked that the kids discovered the idea of finding slope as opposed to me giving it to them.

I ran a little low on time and was rushed at the end of the class period to get all of the pairings up to the front of the class. When the class is a shorter length I would rather have maybe spent a little less time with the first worksheet. The big problem I would have with cutting that time shorter is that I know that a lot of the students enjoyed it and had a great time experimenting with walking the line to look the same as the graph on the paper. So that is something that I would have to deal with when it came to that part of the lesson plan. On of the other things that I overlooked was when the students come up to the front of the room I would have instructed them to bring their pencil with them to the front of the class room because we spent a lot of time walking to the front of the classroom and then back to record the data.

Send comments to Atlee Zipf at aggieatlee@hotmail.com

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Tue Nov 29 21:08:52 2005