Graphing and the Coordinate Plane

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This lesson is designed to introduce students to graphing ordered pairs of numbers on the coordinate plane.


Upon completion of this lesson, students will:

  • have been introduced to the Cartesian coordinate plane
  • understand the four quadrants of the Cartesian coordinate plane
  • be able to plot points on the plane
  • be able to read coordinates for a point from a graph
  • be able to give the ratio of rise over run for slope

Standards Addressed:

Textbooks Aligned:

Student Prerequisites

  • Arithmetic: Student must be able to:
    • perform integer and fractional arithmetic.
  • Technological: Students must be able to:
    • perform basic mouse manipulations such as point, click and drag.
    • use a browser for experimenting with the activities.
  • Algebraic: Students must be able to:
    • work with very simple linear algebraic expressions.

Teacher Preparation

Key Terms

coordinatesA unique ordered pair of numbers that identifies a point on the coordinate plane. The first number in the ordered pair identifies the position with regard to the x-axis while the second number identifies the position on the y-axis

Lesson Outline

  1. Focus and Review

    Remind students what has been learned in previous lessons that will be pertinent to this lesson and/or have them begin to think about the words and ideas of this lesson.

  2. Objectives

    Let the students know what it is they will be doing and learning today. Say something like this:

    • Today, class, we are going to learn about graphing lines on the coordinate plane.
    • We are going to use the computers to do this but please do not turn your computers on until I ask you to. I want to show you a little about this activity first.

  3. Teacher Input

    • Lead a discussion on the number line and the coordinate plane.

  4. Guided Practice

    • Practice the students' point plotting skills by having them play the Coordinates! Game The game allows users to figure out and to practice using the coordinate plane for giving the "address" or exact location of particular points.

  5. Independent Practice

  6. Closure

    • You may wish to bring the class back together for a discussion of the findings. Once the students have been allowed to share what they found, summarize the results of the lesson.

Alternate Outline

This lesson can be rearranged in several ways:

  • Omit one or the other of the computer activities to reduce the amount of time spent.
  • Add a discussion about fractional movement on the coordinate plane
  • For students who aren't ready to handle negative numbers yet, replace the Coordinates activity with the positive numbers only alternate versions:
  • Introduce students to the next lesson by using Simple Plot to plot the tables of points that the students generated.

Suggested Follow-Up

After these discussions and activities, students will be have learned to plot points on the coordinate plane and to read the coordinates off of a graph. The next lesson Graphs and Functions will introduce students to the graphical representation of functions.

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