Color Coded Rotations


Last fall I posted some experiences and conversations that took place during our work with transformations.  I learned something so simple from my students and this year, I have shared it with my geometry classes again.  When looking to rotate about the origin, simply rotation the graph and identify the “new” coordinates.

Sure, we do the typical, here’s a preimage, here’s the new image after rotating.  Now, what do you notice happened to the coordinates?  What’s the rule? (x, y) -> (-y, x) for 90º and so on…  but once again, they get so focused on remembering the rules, then they get the x’s and y’s and the  signs all jumbled and its a mess.  I wanted to give them something, a visual, they could go back to…

Shortly before fall break, while assessing some student work, I had an idea.  It seemed so obvious at the time, yet, I had never thought of it before.  Using color-coded axes to demonstrate the rotations about the origin.  I chose to make the positive side of each axis a different color than the negative side.  We would rotate, then discuss which color was now in place of (x, y) for the first quadrant. 

For several students, you could hear their light bulb. 


Again, nothing new, but something that gave my students a concrete reference rather than remembering the rules. 

One response »

  1. That’s a great idea, Pam! I love the color. The other thing I do is have the kids draw in the lines to the center of rotation so they can visualize the 90 degree angle. They still need to understand what happens to the coordinates, but if they draw in the angle, then they can see why the signs and coordinates are flip-flopping (like politicians?).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s