# Teaching Ordered Pairs Using Technology

Technology can help you teach math more efficiently. Too often students engage in paper and pencil tasks when they could be actively engaged with math concepts.

Recently, I observed a middle school math lesson. Students were sitting quietly, following the directions of the teacher. They were drawing a coordinate grid on a piece of graph paper. It took 15 laborious minutes for the completion of this one coordinate grid. Here are the steps they took:

• At first, students were confused on the direction their paper should be in…..horizontally or vertically (the teacher did give directions about this).
• Then students were meticulously counting the number of squares on the graph paper to find the exact middle (both horizontally and vertically) in order to draw the x- and y-axes.
• The teacher needed to work with many students in order to correct the placement of the axes… the counting took place again.
• Once the grids were finally set up, students began plotting ordered pairs.
• The last step of this “activity” was to connect the ordered pairs to find out what picture resulted.

The purpose of this activity was to practice locating points on a coordinate grid (as a review to get ready for work with scatter plots and transformation of shapes). But, why spend 15 minutes drawing one coordinate grid and then using paper and pencil to locate the ordered pairs? What’s the better alternative?

Many teachers might say, “Well, just print out the graph paper with the coordinate grid already drawn”.

Yes, this will save time, but when you really think about it, does this solution allow for maximizing instructional time with meaningful activities and learning?

Take a look at these options:

December Lites using the TI-73 Graphing Calculator

In this activity, students will graph ordered pairs in order to create a picture of a candle. I particularly like the activity because of its connection to the timeless connect-the-dots activities so beloved of younger children! But, here, technology, through the use of a TI-73 graphing calculator, enhances the experience. Once created, students are then challenged to recreate the picture by changing the ‘rule’ of the ordered pairs.

Teaching Coordinate Graphing with Microsoft Excel

This lesson plan idea provides teachers a way to use technology to create meaningful activities that connect to the real world. Step-by-step directions are given on how to import an outline of a state (or country) map into an Excel spreadsheet that serves as a coordinate grid. Student can be asked to identify certain map features or draw in features using coordinate locations.

And for something cute…

Catch the Fly

Flies move along a coordinate grid and settle down in one location. Students identify the fly’s location and when correct, a frog releases his tongue to capture the fly.

Locate the Aliens

Students have 90 seconds to locate as many aliens as possible on Planet Algebra.