Today, I want to share my favorite new way to help struggling students with graphing linear equations. At the end of last year, I was asked to provide a list of resources I would like in my classroom. One of the things I asked for was coordinate plane geoboards. [You can read about the rest of what I got here.] I asked for twelve of them, thinking that each pair of students could share. Now, I'm regretting that because I wish I had enough for every student to have their own.

These have been AMAZING. My kids have really enjoyed using them, and so many of the problems I've had in the past haven't been an issue this year.

Since I started teaching, I have always had a few kids who would "graph" by plotting the y-intercept and drawing a random line through it. Guess what? You can't do that with a geoboard. You have to have at least two pegs to make a line which means they HAVE to use the slope to find another point!

I also used to have students who would mess up on their slope and not realize it. For example, they would go up two and right one at one point instead of up three and right one. The line looks *almost* right, and usually, they would be fine with this. With the rubber bands, my kids know that if all the pegs are in the right spot, the rubber band will lie smoothly. There have been so many times when a kid has asked for help because the way the rubber band is laying has told them that something isn't quite right with their graph.

Since the x-axis and y-axis are movable, not all of my kids have graphs that look exactly the same. This leads to some awesome conversations that I never had when I just let my kids graph their lines on the dry erase boards. It also means my students can graph equations that wouldn't be possible to graph on our dry erase boards. I love watching them move the x-axis and y-axis as they work. It gives me hope that when they get to Algebra 2 that changing the window on the graphing calculator won't seem so weird.

Now, these boards do present a few problems. You can't graph fractional intercepts. Instead, we just have to graph the other points and check that the rubber band does cross the axis at the appropriate place. I warned my kids the first day we used these that the first time someone shot a rubber across the room that we would put them up, and I would hand out a packet of graphing worksheets instead. This seemed to do the trick. I never had anyone flick a rubber band (to my knowledge). I did get hit by a rubber band once, but it was a complete accident. I bought cheap containers (5 for a dollar) at Dollar Tree to store the rubber bands and pegs in. This helped A LOT, but I still had to pick up a lot of blue pegs out of the floor.

Hey I am new to blogging and just took part in the Week 2 blog as well. This is a really cool idea. Do you use these Geoboards for other things besides lines?

ReplyDeleteI haven't used them for anything but lines, yet. I think they could also be used with absolute value and quadratics!

DeleteSo glad you're joining us in the blogging challenge!

Very cool! There is a great online geoboard as well if you students have access to technology. With ipads 1:1, we use http://www.mathlearningcenter.org/web-apps/geoboard/ This is a great reminder for me as some of my students are struggling with this exact concept right now.

ReplyDeleteAwesome! We're sadly not 1:1, but I hope this link helps out someone who is!

DeleteThanks I saved the link in a google doc. I'll encourage students to continue exploring with it at home if they want.

DeleteWhere did you get the axes and pegs? This is SUCH a great idea!

ReplyDeleteThey came as a kit. I linked to them above.

DeleteWhat a great idea! I could see using those to graph quadratics as well. You'd have to loop the rubber band around the outside of the vertex and first few points, but I would bet this would be a great tool for my Algebra 2 students also.

ReplyDeleteAgreed!

DeleteThis looks like an amazing way to teach graphing to my lower level algebra one class. Now I have to see if we have any geoboards laying around in our school system. Thank you!!

ReplyDeleteMy lower level kids definitely get more into it than my upper level kids.

DeleteJust purchased one after reading this inspiring post! Thanks

ReplyDeleteHope you like it!

DeleteLove this post! I'm getting ready to start linear graphing with my Pre-Alg students. I can easily see this as a great math station for a work day. My only problem: all I have available are the regular old Geoboards (which look like dinosaurs compared to yours). I think I can just use different colored rubber bands for the x and y-axis, but what do you think about the pegs? Any ideas for a diy?

ReplyDeleteWow a set of 6 is only 30 bucks?! That's cheap. I can definitely see students exploring this in 6th grade, using it for proportional relationships and non proportional in 7th, and then with y=mx+b in 8th. I think it could be a sweet common theme at our middle school and I'm definitely going to try to get my school to order these!

ReplyDeleteJust got 2 sets of 6, my department coordinator had some money available and was able to get them for me! I hope to start using them Friday. Thank you!

ReplyDeleteAwesome!

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