Quadratics Chain – Quite a Conversation Starter!

IMG_2164My algebra students have been studying transformations of quadratic functions – most specifically, how does changing “a” and/or “c” in a quadratic function written in the form y = ax^2 + c impact the graph when compared to the graph of the parent function f(x) = x^2?

Students have had a lesson, homework, and a chance to examine graphs using graphing calculators and/or Desmos, but some students still weren’t “seeing it”.


IMG_2162Inspired by this blog post, I used Desmos to create a “Quadratic Chain” activity.  Tonight is a “no-homework night” across our district, so I felt that devoting the last 20 minutes of class to this cooperative task would be a good wrap-up.

Boy was I wrong.

It was… an AMAZING wrap-up!  Why?




I was absolutely beaming as I walked around the room, watching students compare, discuss, disagree, and A-HA all over themselves!  Boy did I underestimate this one.  It was great, and I will do it again!  We even created a “gallery” for our “chains” on the wall outside my classroom.  Quite retro chic if you ask me. 😉



Here’s the file if you’d like to give it a try!  My only wish is that the numbers on the axes were a little larger, but it didn’t seem to impact the activity today one bit.


Here’s a thorough explanation about how this type of activity works.

Here is a video I took with my iPhone while walking around during student conversations.  It doesn’t do justice to all the math talk that was happening, but it’s a little sample!


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3 Responses to Quadratics Chain – Quite a Conversation Starter!

  1. Pingback: Chain activity | Fröken Matematik

  2. Hi Cathy,

    Thanks for sharing. As I am unfamiliar with Desmos, I will have a look into it.
    If you like chaining excersices, you should also check Formulator Tarsia at http://www.mmlsoft.com/index.php/products/tarsia

    Jörgen (teacher math 12 – 17 yrs in The Netherland

    • Cathy Yenca says:

      Thanks so much for sharing – this looks like a great tool for chaining and puzzle exercises! Check out Desmos as well – it’s a free online graphing calculator, but its dynamic platform makes it so much more than a calculator: desmos.com

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