Saturday, January 11, 2014

Fantastic and Free App: Graphing Gala

I remember when I first learned about graphing on the coordinate plane, I was in eighth grade algebra and was absent the day it was introduced.  For some reason, I had a really hard time catching up and figuring it all out.  
These days we teach graphing on the coordinate system earlier and through my teaching career I have introduced it to kids from grades 4 to 7.  Now that we are following the Common Core, this is something we must do in grade 6.  
Check out the standards related to graphing on the coordinate plane
  • CCSS.Math.Content.6.NS.C.6 Understand a rational number as a point on the number line. Extend number line diagrams and coordinate axes familiar from previous grades to represent points on the line and in the plane with negative number coordinates.
    • CCSS.Math.Content.6.NS.C.6a Recognize opposite signs of numbers as indicating locations on opposite sides of 0 on the number line; recognize that the opposite of the opposite of a number is the number itself, e.g., –(–3) = 3, and that 0 is its own opposite.
    • CCSS.Math.Content.6.NS.C.6b Understand signs of numbers in ordered pairs as indicating locations in quadrants of the coordinate plane; recognize that when two ordered pairs differ only by signs, the locations of the points are related by reflections across one or both axes.
    • CCSS.Math.Content.6.NS.C.6c Find and position integers and other rational numbers on a horizontal or vertical number line diagram; find and position pairs of integers and other rational numbers on a coordinate plane

It is interesting to many people that these standards are not found in the geometry section but rather the Number System section.  I think they are placed exactly where they belong.  Most of the coordinate graphing as described in these standards is about understanding and using rational numbers and thinking about signed numbers.  Of course there is a little geometry understanding in there but the big idea is really about the number system.  

I also love how more number line work shows up in younger grades in the Common Core.  A coordinate plane is really just 2 number lines that have been put together.  With younger students having more experience placing whole numbers, fractions and decimals on number lines, sixth graders should be coming into this ready to take the next step.  

We started by graphing coordinates made up of just integers and then moved onto including fractions and decimals in our coordinates.  After some great work and whole group instruction, I started looking for apps that would provide the extra practice my students needed and would also provide a way for my students to re-visit these ideas throughout the school year.  

My search lead me to Graphing Gala which is by Hooda Math.  

It is FREE and walks kids through levels similar to the way I taught them.  They start with integer coordinates and progress from there.  It is also FUN.  My kids found it super engaging and loved that they were earning money for collecting the coins off the coordinate grid. 

Let's take a look

This is what comes up when you first start.  Notice all the coordinates are integers.  It gives written directions and other clues such as arrows.  As you click on the right "coin" it deposits the money in the piggy bank and displays another problem.  
If you click on the wrong coin, it gives you a hint about X coming before Y and turns the axis blue and red to correspond to the coordinate point.  
Level 2 adds in points on the X and Y axis (pink)
Level 3 has some fractional coordinates
Level 4 has some decimal coordinates 
Level 5 is a race against time.  You try to collect as many coins as you can in 60 seconds
When you finish level 5, it takes you to a street of stores where you can purchase items with the coins you earned.  The items are to decorate for your party.

Here is where you can "spend" the coins you earned
Here are some of the things I purchased for the party!
This buying/party stage takes only about 2 minutes and the kids really like it.  Sometimes they don't get there before time is up or we are moving onto something else but it is a relatively quick reward for doing all the work.

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When and how are you teaching or practicing graphing on the coordinate plane?  Please respond in the comments below.


  1. Thanks for sharing! I am always on the lookout for good apps! Looks like a fun one!

    Eclectic Educating

    1. You are welcome! My students are super engaged with this one.

  2. I love it! I think I'm going to have my students play this game tomorrow, I'm so excited. Thank you for sharing.

    1. You are welcome. I am sure your students will enjoy it!