Sunday, January 15, 2012

Feed Your Students a Hot Cup of Alphabet Slope

Years ago I found this short "Sloping Letters" activity which asks students to view the letters of the alphabet as line segments with positive, negative, zero or undefined slopes.  I liked the idea because it makes students focus only on visually identifying slopes, which is a skill that makes all the follow-up easier.

As we were revisiting slope last week, I took that idea and expanded it: I had my students break down every letter of the alphabet and label the slopes of each segment.  I call it Alphabet Slope.

First, we did quick notes on the four types of slope mentioned above.  The way I explained it, depending on how you look at certain letters, you can break them down in multiple ways: for example, the letter D could be made up of an undefined slope and a non-linear piece as seen above, or you could include two small zero slope segments on the top and bottom.  I didn't go as far as have students turn the letters into blocky versions that had no non-linear parts, but you could very well do that with your kids.

The Sloping Letters activity is a great wrap-up for the Alphabet Slope activity.  It forces the students to look back at their work and think about the pieces.

If they've studied slope before, this will take about 25-35 minutes, but for students looking at it for the first time, it might take a bit longer.

Alphabet Slope activity (PDF)
Sloping Letters follow-up activity

Do you have other ideas about helping students visually identify slopes, or to think about slope in different ways?  Share them in the comments.

mathequalslove said...

I love, love, love this idea. I'm student teaching, and my students are just getting ready to start slope. So this post came at the perfect time!

Jen @ lil Mop Top said...

How cute! I just shared it on my facebook page. :)

Amy Gruen said...

This is perfect for my math strategies class goals this week. Thank you! The Algebra 1 teacher at our school has a poster of a skier going uphill, downhill, on level, and then falling off a cliff to show all the different kinds of slopes. Students always remember this poster when they get to my Algebra 2 two years later.

Ms. Zimmer Teaches in Math Land said...

What timing! This is exactly where I am with my Algebra 1A students! I started by having them draw their first initial in block letters. Parameters: all 4 quadrants, between 15 -20 points: points first, writing the coordinates of each point, then connecting them with straight lines. This is a great extension, because now I have the letters to use under the document camera! I can have them work in teams to identify the ones they did themselves! Slope triangles are always effective.
Amy

Anonymous said...

Awww man this is perfect! I just taught slope, but I will definitely keep this is in my cache for when I revisit this.

iMath said...

Perfect timing for this lesson and very creative to involve the alphabet. The students will be able to visualize and understand easily. We are going to add this at the end of the week. Is there anything else you would add to the lesson in retrospect or any additional thoughts on involving technology? Thank you so much for posting it.

Mr. Carby said...

I love the simplicity! Great stuff!