I’ve always thought that plotting points on a graph is one of the most boring things in life. It just seems so tedious, necessary, but tedious. I am not a fan of tedious and neither are the 11 and 12 year old students in my class. Our collective view is that math should be interesting and engaging (my view because I want them to learn to love math, their view because all things should be interesting and engaging when you are 11).
As I planned this lesson this year, I decided to try out a life-size coordinate plane. I had my student aides tape it onto the tile floor out in the hallway (since I have carpet in my room) a couple of weeks prior to the lesson. I wanted it to just sit there so that kids would see it and see the quadrant numbering every time they walked past the door for a few weeks. (My Algebra teacher did this with the quadratic formula. He wrote it in a corner of the board and just left it there. He didn’t say anything about it but we sat there looking at every day for a solid two weeks before he introduced it. Without even realizing it, most of us knew it before he even started the lesson.)
On the day of the lesson, students completed a foldable summarizing how to plot points on the coordinate plane.
Afterwards, they were each given an index card with an ordered pair. Each student walked over to their x coordinate and then up or down for their y coordinate.
When everyone could correctly plot the points, they returned to the classroom and played battleship on coordinate planes. Each player was given two coordinate planes. They were required to plot their ships on one of the coordinate plane ranging from -5 to 5 in both directions. Each player had a five point ship, a four point ship, a three point ship, and a two point ship. Ships could be aligned horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. They used the second coordinate plane to record their “shots” at their opponent.