Activities to Teach Students About Transformations of Absolute Value Functions: Translations, Reflections, and Dilations
Introducing absolute value functions can be a challenge for any math teacher. The concept can seem abstract and confusing to students, but by using interactive activities that demonstrate transformations, teachers can help their students understand and master the concept.
For those unfamiliar with absolute value functions, they are functions that show the distance between a number and zero. For example, the absolute value of -3 is 3. Absolute value functions can be represented graphically as a “V” shape that opens at the vertex of the function. The vertex occurs at the point where the function “turns” or changes direction.
To help students understand transformations, visual aids can be used, such as graphs of absolute value functions, or manipulatives like blocks and dice.
One activity that can introduce students to transformations is the translation game. Students can select a starting point on a graph of an absolute value function and then use a dice to roll a number that represents the number of units to translate the graph. From there, they use their knowledge of absolute value functions to determine the new vertex and how the function has transformed. Students can have fun tracking their progress and playing around with different starting points and transformations.
Another activity that can teach students about reflections is the mirror activity. Students can draw or trace a graph of an absolute value function and then place a mirror underneath the graph. They can then observe how the reflection of the function changes as they move the mirror. This activity helps students understand how reflecting a function over either the x or y-axis affects its graph.
Lastly, the dilation activity explores how stretching or compressing a graph changes the absolute value function. Students can use blocks or drawing tools to change the scale of an absolute value function’s graph. This activity promotes understanding of the dilation concept and how it affects the function.
By using these interactive activities, students can gain a deep understanding of absolute value functions and the various transformations that can be performed on them. This deep understanding can help students be more confident when working with more complex mathematical concepts in the future.