This learning activity allows the student to explore how the m and b in the linear equation y = mx + b relate to the graph of a line.
Type of Material:
Classroom demo; student exploration
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Identify Major Learning Goals:
The successful student will learn how the value of m in the equation is related to the slope of the graph of the line and how b is related to the y-intercept. The student will become familiar with the graph of the line.
Target Student Population:
Beginning algebra students
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
The activities assume no prior knowledge other than the Cartesian coordinate system
This learning object consists of a graphing tool accompanied with five activities. On the left is a frame containing well written instructions that guide the student through the activities. The frames width can easily be resized. On the right is the graphing tool. In the activities, the student is asked to enter the graph of y = mx + b and is instructed to change the parameters m and b to explore the effect of the graph. The parameters can be inputted and incremented manually or automatically so that the student can explore the effect of the graph when the parameters change. In another activity, the student is asked to change the values of the parameters to find the equation of a line given two points.
Reformatting the left activity frame to use bulleting, numbering, or some other organizational technique would make the instructions easier to follow.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The object can be used by students learning on their own without the assistance of an instructor. The student using this activity will have the opportunity to explore the graphs of lines without getting frustrated. Students are encouraged to work in pairs, one plotting two points and the other attempting to find the equation of the line.
The animation can be extremely quick, depending on the users computer. An additional comment that using a value of E that is negative will produce a slower graph would be helpful to the student who does not realize this in advance.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The object does a fine job in explaining how to use the tool. If the student follows the directions then there should not be any difficulty in navigating around the tool.
The entries for m and b must be entered in decimal form. Students are used to slopes written as fractions instead of decimals.
The parameter controls for animation could be enlarged and separated so that they do not overlap. It would be helpful to have the Stop button present whenever the animation feature is used.
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