This learning activity allows the student to explore the Cartesian coordinate system, distances between two points and the slope of a line. The graphing tool also allows the student to graph curves and trace the coordinates.
Type of Material:
Classroom demo; student exploration
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Identify Major Learning Goals:
The successful student will learn to recognize the quadrant system, x and y coordinates, vertical and horizontal lines, distance between two points, and the slope of a line between two points.
Target Student Population:
Beginning algebra students
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
The activities assume no prior knowledge other than the Pythagorean Theorem
This learning object consists of a graphing tool accompanied by four 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. The user can zoom in and out move the center left, right, up, or down. The left and right movements can be animated. Points and lines can be drawn by clicking, control clicking, and control dragging the mouse.
The applet will also graph and edit a function and allows the user to designate the color of the graph. The cursor may be used to trace the graphs to determine the coordinates of the points of intersection of two graphs. There are no instructions or activities available for using the function graphing tool. However, the applet is simple enough that with an instructor-designed activity, the student would be able to manipulate the graph.
Reformatting the left activity frame to utilize bulleting, numbering, or some other organizational technique would make the instructions easier to follow. When all four of x, y, w, and h are changed and the user hits enter, only two of the changes are reflected.
The last activity states that the slope measures direction, the word steepness would be more accurate than "direction".
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The applet can be used by students learning on their own without the assistance of an instructor. The student is encouraged to explore the coordinate system by clicking on points and lines of his or her choosing.
The fourth activity assumes that the student remembers the Pythagorean Theorem. This is a huge assumption given the level of the intended student.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
This applet can be used without any explanation, given that the student has been through the first activity. The graph is easy to use and the activities are well thought out.
A zoom standard button would make the applet easier to navigate. On the third and fourth activity, it would have been helpful to first guide the user through a particular example of two points and their distances and the slope of the line containing them.
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