Math Mondays: Playing with slope

I love mixing subjects, particularly math with art.  We have done tessellations, fractals, and more.  I have used Mondrian art for statistics and area, Calder for balancing equations and paper chains for rational and irrational numbers.  So, I loved when I stumbled upon this idea for playing with slope.  

I'd love to attribute the idea to one person, but I have seen it literally all over the web.  I will just say that while I am sharing it here, it did not originate with me.  My students loved this activity and definitely gained a deeper understanding of slopes of line and working with linear equations.


Here's what we did:




  • Everyone started with a piece of graph paper on which we drew an x-axis and y-axis in the center.
  • Each student wrote a linear equation and then graphed it.   
  • Each student wrote the linear equation at the end of the line.
  • Students continued writing more equations and drawing more lines to make designs.  I encouraged students to play with positive and negative slopes as well as what happens when an equation is y = a number or x= number.







  • Some students  found that they wanted to place a line in a distinct place, so they graphed the line first and then used two points to determine the equation of the line.  
  • Students continued in this manner until they were happy with the shapes they had created.










  • Then, the fun began.  Everyone added color.  Some designs turned out as abstracts while others were able to find distinct shapes in their designs.  This one was determined to be a bird-fish - one that can fly or swim.  I believe it is supposed to be flying into the sky.  We had several other fun designs.  It was a great hit and a great reminder about the joys of thinking outside the box when we teach even traditional concepts such as slope and linear equations.  

Math Mondays is a bi-weekly blog post (2nd and 4th Monday of each month) sharing tips, ideas, resources, and products for teaching math.  If you have questions or think there is something I should include, you can leave me a message in the comments section below or at the store in the question and answer section.

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