Unit 3Big Ideas

Representing Linear Relationships

This week your student will learn how to write equations representing linear relationships. A linear relationship exists between two quantities where one quantity has a constant rate of change with respect to the other. The relationship is called linear because its graph is a line.

For example, say we are 5 mile into a hike heading toward a lake at the end of the trail. If we walk at a speed of 2.5 miles per hour, then for each hour that passes we are 2.5 miles further along the trail. After 1 hour we would be 7.5 miles from the start. After 2 hours we would be 10 miles from the start (assuming no stops). This means there is a linear relationship between miles traveled and hours walked. A graph representing this situation is a line with a slope of 2.5 and a vertical intercept of 5.

Here is a task to try with your student:

The graph shows the height in inches, h , of a bamboo plant t months after it has been planted.

  1. What is the slope of this line? What does that value mean in this context?
  2. At what point does the line intersect the h -axis? What does that value mean in this context?
A line graphed on the x y plane with the origin labeled O. The horizontal axis is labeled t, in months, with the numbers 1 through 15 indicated. The vertical axis is labeled h, in inches, with the numbers 5 through 50, in increments of 5, indicated. The line begins on the vertical axis at 12, slants upward and to the right passing through the points 1 comma 15, 6 omma 30, and 11 comma 45.


  1. 3. Every month that passes, the bamboo plant grows an additional 3 inches.
  2. (0,12) . This bamboo plant was planted when it was 12 inches tall.

Finding Slopes

This week your student will investigate linear relationships with slopes that are not positive. Here is an example of a line with negative slope that represents the amount of money on a public transit fare card based on the number of rides you take:

The slope of the line graphed here is \text-2.5 since \text{slope}=\frac{\text{vertical change}}{\text{horizontal change}}=\frac{\text-40}{16}=\text-2.5. This corresponds to the cost of 1 ride. The vertical intercept is 40, which means the card started out with $40 on it.

One possible equation for this line is y=\text-2.5x+40. It is important for students to understand that every pair of numbers (x,y) that is a solution to the equation representing the situation is also a point on the graph representing the situation. (We can also say that every point (x,y) on the graph of the situation is a solution to the equation representing the situation.)

Here is a task to try with your student:

A length of ribbon is cut into two pieces. The graph shows the length of the second piece, x , for each length of the first piece, y .

a function showing the length of a first piece and a second piece in feet.
  1. How long is the original ribbon? Explain how you know.
  2. What is the slope of the line? What does it represent?
  3. List three possible pairs of lengths for the two pieces and explain what they mean.


  1. 15 feet. When the second piece is 0 feet long, the first is 15 feet long, so that is the length of the ribbon.
  2. -1. For each length the second piece increases by, the first piece must decrease by the same length. For example, if we want the second piece to be 1 foot longer, then the first piece must be 1 foot shorter.
  3. Three possible pairs: (14.5,0.5) , which means the second piece is 14.5 feet long so the first piece is only a half foot long.  (7.5,7.5) , which means each piece is 7.5 feet long, so the original ribbon was cut in half. (0,15) , which means the original ribbon was not cut at all to make a second piece, so the first piece is 15 feet long.