Math Background

Coordinate Graphing: Tips and Tricks

  • Make sure you have plenty of grid paper and rulers or straightedges on hand for your students to use.
  • You may need to remind students frequently to move right to locate the x-coordinate and up to locate the y-coordinate when plotting points on a coordinate grid.
  • Have students construct a bulletin board of a coordinate grid with the important terms labeled.
  • Use masking tape to construct a coordinate grid on the floor of the classroom. Divide the class into two teams. Have each team take turns calling out ordered pairs for the other team to locate on the grid.
  • Prepare some poster-size coordinate grids or use an overhead projector to demonstrate coordinate graphing.
  • Reinforce the importance of the order of the x- and y-coordinates in an ordered pair. Graph (1, 3), (2, 4), and (3, 5) on a coordinate grid. Then graph (3, 1), (4, 2), and (5, 3) on another coordinate grid. Connect the points on each grid. Point out the difference in the location of the points on each graph and the lines connecting the points.
  • To help students remember which coordinate is named first, tell them that just as x comes before y in the alphabet, the x-coordinate comes before the y-coordinate in an ordered pair.
  • Play the game Equation Maker in class. Write a simple equation on the board or overhead. Provide the class with the x-coordinate and have students determine the y-coordinate. As the class gets better at doing this, provide students with the y-coordinate and ask for the x-coordinate.
  • Write an ordered pair on the board. Have students write an equation for the ordered pair. Then have them write three more ordered pairs that fit the equation. Finally, have students locate the ordered pairs on a coordinate grid to make a graph of the equation.

Houghton Mifflin Math Grade 4