Cubic graph matching activity: TES Maths Resource of the Week

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What is it?
A-level students are presented with 3 sets of cards: one has a sketch of a cubic curve, one has a factorised expression, and the other has a non-factorised cubic expression. The challenge for students is to match these cards up into sets.

What makes this activity so brilliant are the careful choices of examples. There are positives and negatives, repeated roots, interesting intersections and more. Students are exposed to the full domain of the concept, which is crucial to ensure a more complete understanding. The examples are also related to each other, often with just one thing changing each time, compelling students to think really hard about the impact these changes will have.

How can it be used?
An activity like this is well suited to paired work. The discussions that students have during these kinds of activities can be priceless. There is also the opportunity to bring in some technology. Pairs could be give a couple of desmos tokens, which allow them to type in one of the expressions and see what it looks like on a graph. Of course, desmos may well prove invaluable during the whole class discussion that follows that activity, enabling us to ask questions such as, “what will happen to the graph if I change this plus to a minus?”

This is before we consider the possibility of making some of the cards blank, including a red herring, throwing some quadratics into the mix, or encouraging students to create their own set. This really is a top quality resource!

Thanks for sharing!
Craig Barton

Download: Cubic graph matching activity
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