Lesson Plan

Intro to Slope / Rate of Change

Understand the meaning behind function graphs
Kelly A.
Classroom teacher
Ladue Middle School
St. Louis, MO
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My Grades 6, 7, 8
Digitial Citizenship and EdTech Mentor

This lesson flow will introduce pre-algebra students to the concept of rate of change and how it translates to a visual graph. Students will go beyond plotting points on a graph and connecting them to make a line - they will understand the meaning behind the change in the relationship represented by the function.

Student outcomes:

  • understand that a function shows a relationship between two factors, and how that relationship changes
  • understand that a function can be used to predict values
  • describe a function qualitatively
Grades 7 - 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Use a backchannel such as TodaysMeet to brainstorm around the essential question: Can we use information to predict the future? Students might give their opinions on whether they believe we can or cannot truly predict the future, give examples of how we try to predict the future in daily life, or posit what kind of information we might need to predict future events.

Students can talk about the question in small groups, post their thoughts, and read others' insights on the backchannel. At the end of the lesson, students can revisit their thoughts and how they relate to what they have learned.

2 Direct Instruction


The "Domino Effect" lesson on Mathalicious is available for free and is a fantastic introduction to the concepts of slope and y-intercept based in a topic every middle school student loves - pizza! Students will use information from Dominos to create graphs, and see how each topping affects the price of the pizza. They then answer questions about the essential features of the graph: what does the y-intercept represent? What does the slope of the line mean

3 Guided Practice

Start with the video "Slope and Rate of Change" to give students guided examples of finding the slope of a line from a graph or set of ordered pairs. Students can then explore related problem solving videos in small groups or under guidance from the teacher.

As an alternative or extension activity, have your students hit YouTube or another video sharing service, and find their own videos of guided problem solving. They can then share the videos they think are most helpful with their classmates.

4 Independent Practice

Free to Try, Paid

Students can practice finding the slope of a line from a graph or from two points using 8th grade skills V.9 and V.10. IXL gives feedback when a student gets a problem correct or incorrect, provides a SmartScore to let students know how they are doing overall, and gives prizes when students master each skill. Best of all, the teacher can see all students' usage statistics, such as time spent on each problem and rate of accuracy. 

5 Wrap-Up

Twitter is a great way for students to boil down what they have learned into 160 characters. To put everything together from this experience, have students find Creative Commons licensed images of linear graphs. Then, they can tweet the picture with a brief qualitative statement about the essential features of the graph. What does the y-intercept represent? What change does the slope represent? Where might the graph be going?