So, I haven’t had a lot that I wanted to blog about recently, until I decided to do something a fun my 7th graders on Friday. I went to home depot and got a 50 foot rope and a can of black spray paint. I cut the rope in half and spray painted every foot. I laid one rope piece across the other, and voila! Coordinate Plane. Setup wise, if I had to do it again I would’ve gotten more rope and painted more than a foot apart to give the students some more space, but it went pretty well all the same.
When I initially took them out there, I gave them all a note card that was folded in half. The outside had a coordinate, and the inside had instructions on changes in the x and y values (x+3 and y-7) of the point. The changes in those x and y values actually corresponded to another person’s coordinate. So I had each student find their coordinate and then I chose a random student to start. I asked him, given his changes in x and y, in what direction will he be moving? I then asked him to predict who was standing in his new spot. After he did this, I had him count off the changes in both numbers, and take the place of the person standing there. That person then followed the same pointing in the general direction of movement then predict who was standing in their new spot directions. We did this until everyone had moved and the last person had taken the first person’s place. The only thing I had trouble within this lesson was that my second class is much smaller than my first, but I used the same set of cards, so it didn’t work out quite as cleanly. I should’ve made them their own set.
Next I wanted to graph some equations. My students do not know slope or y-intercept or how to graph lines, they simply no how to graph points (x,y) and how to connect those dots to make shapes. We have been working on functions and two-variable equations recently, and graphing x and y values that make those true, so I asked them to do that. I split them into two groups, so I could have two lines, and at first I had one do x+y=5 and the other do x+y=7. Very quickly someone came up with the fact that they were parallel. We did some other things (graphed x-y=5 and 2x+y=5 and x+2y=5) and they really started to get that they always made straight lines. We also had good observations about 2x+y=5 being steep and x+2y being flat.
The best part was when we got back to the classroom, in both classes, I had students say they wanted to do more things like that. They thought it was fun and they felt like they really understood what they were doing better with coordinate planes. I was also a little shy at first even taking them outside, because I’m new and hadn’t seen others do it very much, but I had multiple teachers tell me that they were glad I was getting the students outside and doing active things.
Have you done anything with a human coordinate plane before? Please let me know your successes, failures, and ideas in the comments!