Thinking About the Graph

Now that we have reviewed and have a better understanding of the concept of slope, let's delve more deeply into the subject of graphing. An important concept that students struggle with is the distinction between independent variables and dependent variables.

Developing vocabulary is critical in understanding mathematical concepts. It is important to use a variety of tools and strategies to make vocabulary accessible to all students. One tool is technology. Below is an activity that allows you to explore an interactive math dictionary on the computer.

Mathwords is an interactive math dictionary that allows you to interact with a variety of math terms, math formulas, pictures, diagrams, tables, and examples.

So, thinking of our current question: What is the distinction between independent and dependent variables?
First, let?s look at the formal definitions:

  • Independent Variable -- a variable which can be assigned any permissible value without any restriction imposed by any other variable.
  • Dependent Variable -- a variable has its value determined by the choice of value(s) of other variable(s).

Now, click on the link and search for the definitions of these two terms to see what else they provide.

Reflection Questions:

  • How might you utilize this site, or something similar, be useful in your work with students?
  • How does this make vocabulary more accessible?
  • What other strategies might you use to build your students' vocabulary?

Now that you have explored the terms independent and dependent variables on Mathwords, let's see how Ms. England develops the concepts of slope, independent variable, and dependent variable with her students.

Classroom Clip Reflection:

  • How does Ms. England help students understand the difference between dependent and independent variables?
  • How does this method compare with the use of the Mathwords site?
  • What other strategies might she use?
  • What are the implications for your own work with students?