When planning lessons with my student teacher, Lauren, there has been a common theme lately. Rather than bore students with too much direct instruction, aim to *create the need* for the mathematics we want them to learn.

Today, for instance, one topic on our list is using intercepts to graph a line. Too many books and resources START the lesson by telling students to substitute a few zeros. Mathematical robbery.

I like to let the students struggle a bit with an equation given in standard form. I simply ask them to graph it. Ordered pairs don’t come as easily as they’d like. The equation looks so easy – why is this “hard”? 😉 (Note: These algebra newbies haven’t learned slope-intercept form yet, so they tend to try to force* x* and *y* values into this function rather than rewrite the thing and “solve for *y*“.)

Every year, someone realizes that substituting zero for *x * and then zero for *y *gives us two easy points to graph. Ironically… those points park on the axes… now, the ideas of intercepts and using the “Cover-Up Method” to find them gain credibility and meaning. In my experience, simple, subtle twists like this should not be underestimated. Student buy-in is a precious commodity.

How are you planning lessons to create the *need* for the mathematics you’re about to “teach”? Please share – this is an aspect of my own practice where I hope to continue to grow!