Coordinate Graphing is one of those fun lessons I love to teach. Sixth grade PASS requires us only to graph ordered pairs, but that is the basis of graphing. It is this introduction to graphing that sets the tone for the rest of their math courses. In the past, I’ve made elaborate coordinate graphs using duct tape on the floor, giving students an ordered pair, and having them walk from the origin to their point. For the students I teach, I decided that this process isn’t really necessary. For the last couple of years, I give the students a colored sheet of paper with a graph printed on it. We draw the x and y axis, the origin, number the axis, number the quadrants, and then graph a few ordered pairs. A special education teacher found a way to help them to remember to graph the x coordinate first and the y coordinate second. You explain that they “taXi before they flY.” Durint the summer, I had the idea that I was going to show the introduction to the movie Top Gun where they are flying the jets off the big ship and the song “Highway to the Danger Zone” (if that’s not it, that’s the main words to the song) is playing loud. After showing the clip I would use the “TaXi before you flY”, but I totally forgot until after the lesson. Hopefully next year I’ll remember, because I thought that would be an excellent introduction. Here are some of the activities I do, or have done to reinforce graphing ordered pairs on the coordinate plane.
The first activity I do with the students is an “I Have/ Who Has” game. If you’ll look under the “Resources” tab, I have a review of the book. The students LOVE this activity. Every student is engaged at all times and they look for about 40-45 ordered pairs each in just one game. In the book there are four different games, so you could do one during the lesson and then do others as review or something to do when you have free time. This “I Have/ Who Has” game comes with a coordinate graph with different figures at different points. It suggests that you use it as an overhead transparency, but I make a classroom set and put them in a plastic page protector. I pass out all of the cards. Most of the students get two cards. The following is a picture of the coordinate graph that comes with one of the games. Like I said, the students absolutely love this game and with so much repitition they really catch on and it makes playing the other games much easier.
The next activity I have them do is called “Sink Cap’n K”. I did not make this activity up myself, I got it off another website from another teacher. Here is the document, and I encourage you to personalize it to your name. Sink Cap’n K I copy this front and back on one sheet of paper and hand it out to each student. I usually play the first side with them. I play it “them against me.” Of course this is not exactly fair and you’re obviously not going to sink everyone’s ships, but you don’t have to tell them that. They really get a kick out of it. Make sure they know to keep track of the shots that each student is firing so that they don’t call the same point twice. I just play the game for as long as I have time, because nobody is actually going to “win” playing it this way anyway. The next day, the students get into pairs and play against each other. I meant to get manilla file folders for the students to use as “covers” for their games, but I forgot so they used the inside of their books which worked just as good. The following is a picture of some students playing the game.
The next game is one that I haven’t used so far this year, but will probably use as a review later on in the year. I did use it last year. It’s called “Coordinate Hangman”. I got this game out of my “The Middle School Mathematician” book. There is also a review of this book as well in the “Resources” section of this website. This game they play just like hangman only instead of giving the actual letter, they have to give the ordered pair of the point the letter is on in the graph. Last year when we played this, I gave them a category they had to choose a word from. Categories like restaurants, animals, cities, etc. The following is a picture of the game.
I hope your students have as much fun as mine do learning how to graph ordered pairs!!