Need to teach your big kid slope-intercept form but don’t really feel like explaining it?  Break out the ol’ TI 86 — or use the amazing free Desmos graphing calculator — and let her figure it out herself.

Given the basic equation, y = mx + b, and a little time to experiment, most kids can discover how changing values for m and b affects the graph of the line.  Have them draw out a variety of examples in their notebook and write about their observations.  Make sure they explore both positive and negative possibilities, as well as fractions and zero.

This simple, student-controlled activity gives them confidence and a solid context before they begin reading about forms of linear equations and will help set them up for success moving forward.

By the way, if you are teaching Algebra without a graph-ruled notebook, you are torturing yourself unnecessarily.



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