Some of the students that I work with really struggle to do a lot of calculations. They have a hard time remembering a lot of steps when we do complicated algorithms. The topic of analyzing function graphs is one that they can get by just focusing on a few things. The graphs don’t have numbers on them. Instead, they’re based on the change in something over time (and sometimes it’s something besides time).
This topic lends itself to a lot of fun activities that the kids can get really involved in. There isn’t a lot of notes that students need to take, so they can get right into the practicing. Students can even get a chance to be creative when you let them write the story to a given graph.
Analyzing functions also serves as a basis for what happens later when students are working with graphs as far as increasing, decreasing and staying the same goes. This topic goes a long way for building a solid foundation for understanding what’s to come.
Today, I’m sharing 7 awesome analyzing functions activities with you. We’ll look at some practice activities and a quiz. We just completed most of these activities last week in my class and the students were very engaged. We started our unit with a modeling presentation and some notes before engaging in these practice activities. You can read the step by step guide to exactly how we started this unit here. Now, onto the practice activities:
The Graphing Stories website has 21 short videos that are examples of these types of stories that show functions in real life. First, students watch a video showing a story or situation. Students follow along and draw an accompanying graph. Then, in the video they show a graph overlaying the video and how the graph matches up. With this many videos, you won’t be able to use them all. You can spread them out throughout the year as a form of cyclical review. This resource brings some awesome real life math into the classroom.
In this Analyzing Functions Gallery Walk students have the opportunity to make-up the stories that go with graphs. The graphs have the x-axis and y-axis labelled. Working in pairs, students work make their own stories. Pro tips: you may have to encourage them to be creative, but not too creative. Also, remind students they have to pay attention to the details of the graph (especially noticing how the x and y axis are labelled). This activity challenges many students because there are no right answers. But that makes this a great way to see if they really understand what graphs can show and how to interpret the changes on them.
At the end of the activity, a group or two share out their stories for each of the 6 graphs. I had everyone else follow along on a white board, drawing the graph of the story they heard and then made sure that it matched the original graph.
Coloring activities add a little fun to practice., and this Analyzing Functions Coloring Page is no different. The coloring part doesn’t take the students very long and it serves as a brain break. In this particular activity, students have to identify where graphs start and finish. They get a lot of opportunities to work with analyzing function graphs. Also, they get to practice matching a story with its graph. I’m actually using this activity as a part of my sub folder. It’s perfect because the kids can do it without a lot of support.
What better way to practice analyzing functions than with this cut and paste activity. There are 18 scenarios and graphs that students match together. Really, there are 6 sets of 3 because there are 3 stories per variables on the graph. For example, one of the groups of stories is about filling up a cup with soda, so there will be 3 stories about that with the same x and y axis. This is the first activity that I had students do right after we completed the modeling and think through. It helped them really make connections between stories and movement on a graph.
Most of the students did great and didn’t make any mistakes. There were a few students who made a few mistakes and had a hard time seeing what was happening. I could take a few minutes during this activity to work with them one on one to clear up their misconceptions. This activity provides a fun and engaging environment for learning.
I made the match and paste activity above after I came across this freebie on Pinterest. It’s a very similar activity with a few differences. This version has 12 graphs and 18 stories, so six of the stories don’t have a matching graph. This activity works well with students and it’s something that I use later in the year when I need cyclical review of the topic.
If you are looking for a small group activity for analyzing functions, then here it is. This free activity comes from a TPT author called Free to Discover. I like it because it gives students a chance to really break down what they’re doing. I would suggest having group no bigger than 3 when using this activity. There are group A and group B activities, so you might have kids be a part of group A on one day and then group B on a different day. This is easy to use and just a print and go activity.
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We are constantly checking for understanding in my classroom. Sometimes it’s fast and informal. Other times it takes a while and is formal. Well, this quick check belongs in the second category. This will take students 5-10 minutes to complete. Usually, I use this at the end of a class to see where the students stand with the topic. I use the information from this quick check to make group the next day if needed.
This quick check consists of 4 multiple choice and one open response question. You can download it for free just by clicking here. It includes an answer key and will give you an easy to use tool to see how your students are doing. Or, it works great as a quiz or end of unit assessment.
Try one thing…
This blog post shares a lot of ideas for how to engage your students when analyzing function graphs. Choose one thing and try it with your students. Students will appreciate your efforts as you add new and engaging activities to your class. They’ll be more engaged when they get to talk to others about the math they’re practicing, and you’ll love how simple these activities are to implement in your math classroom. Thanks for reading! Until next time!
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