Time Distance Graphs

Algebra 1A is reviewing parts of a graph, writing stories from graphs, and graphing based on situations. I ran across a really fun idea from Mr. Orr where he had students create motion videos, create an answer key (i.e. a nice graph of the scenario) and then gallery walk and try to create graphs based on each pairs video. I knew I wanted to do it with my class. I am not one to one, or even close to that, though, so I adjusted the activity to fit. Instead, we all had to share the one iPad I did have.

Each student got a set of steps and a place to sketch what they thought the steps would look like on a graph. I didn’t give them much direction here. As they finished, I pulled students out into the hall to film there series of steps. I asked them to think about the distance they traveled over the course of doing the activity and re-sketch the graph if doing it changed their minds. (So in the worksheet below, most students had two sketches for #1).

Time Distancedirections

After the videos and sketches, we talked about what a time distance graph shows. I projected a completed graph and students try to come up with a story. Each student then graphed there own graph on a full sheet of graph paper. I checked over them for accuracy, asking students to explain areas I wasn’t sure about and re-draw until we both agreed. They stapled a blank piece of paper on top and wrote the letter of their story on the outside.

Overnight, I collected all the different clips and arranged them by letter. I also taped up the graphs around the room, with only the letter showing. We opened the next day by watching all the clips as a class. Each student sketched what they thought each graph would look like and labeled it with the correct letter. After the clips, students walked around the room to check their answers. I also asked them to write down any “Notices or Wonders,” especially if the graphs didn’t match they had drawn.

Here is a sample video and solution:

IMG_0483 IMG_0484

We got back together as a class and took a poll on which graphs had matched or not. We re-watched the most troubling clips and discussed what made them harder to draw. We also talked about how the graphs might not mach exactly, but still be considered correct. Without having actual measurements on the ground, “fast walking” might always be steeper than “slow walking,” but by how much would vary.

Then, students were given a reflection/exit ticket. Instead of creating graphs, they were given a graph and had to create the story.


The whole thing took about 1 class period, but split into two days. (The end of one class and the first half of another. I have 50 minute classes, but they are small. With a larger class it might have taken longer, or with more iPads it could have been shorter as we wouldn’t have had to watch all the videos together before the walk. Mr. Orr had the iPad videos sitting around the room, one video at each poster.)

It was a fun and active way to introduce motion graphs. I will definitely be using it again. Hopefully next time with more video devices.


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