ALEX Lesson Plan


Take the Stairs to Slope!

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Kenneth Webb
System: Tuscaloosa City
School: Tuscaloosa City Board Of Education
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33048


Take the Stairs to Slope!


This lesson allows students to investigate the slope criteria and characteristics of parallel lines using graphing calculators and school staircases.  Students will also use equations and graphs.  Students will work cooperatively to develop and justify ideas/conjectures.

This is a College- and Career-Ready Standards showcase lesson plan.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
MA2015 (9-12) Geometry
31. Prove the slope criteria for parallel and perpendicular lines, and use them to solve geometric problems (e.g., find the equation of a line parallel or perpendicular to a given line that passes through a given point). [G-GPE5]

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will discover and use the properties of parallel lines.

Students will find equations of parallel lines given other equations of lines passing through other points.

Students will use slope definitions with rise over run and formulas to solve problems and justify reasoning for developed discoveries. 

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Students will work cooperatively to discover patterns in the graph table of values while problem solving.

Students will verify conclusions by finding slope and understanding properties of paralell lines.

Students will measure and document lengths of stairs and compare values to determine parallel slopes. 

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

31 to 60 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Poster Paper or Poster with grid lines

Sticky notes of different types

Straight edge


Student may use their own devices or teacher-issued graphing calculators. 

Technology Resources Needed:

Computer with Internet access

LCD Projector and Document camera to share student work (helpful but not necessary)

Smartview with calculator is needed



  • Locate staircases to be used for lesson.
  • Have graphing calculator ready to be assigned.


  • Geometry students should be able to graph coordinates on Cartesian plane and measure the lengths of models with ruler. 
  • Students should be able to find slope algebraically and graphically, use slope intercept form to solve problems, and have some knowledge of using the graphing calculators. 


1. As students enter the classroom, they should be given a group indicator that tells them where to sit until dismissed to staircase work location. Inform the students that their mission will be to determine whether a pair of equations of lines are parallel. 


2. Student groups should measure the rise and the run of the steps to find the slope of the stairs. They should record these findings on their own paper (this information is to be used to key into their graphing calculators). 

3. The students should come back to the classroom and key their information into their graphing calculators (using the list key on the graphing calculator) to determine if the staircases make parallel lines and have parallel slopes. They should look for patterns, develop equations based on data, and list slope conclusions based on data.  The groups must agree on findings and be able to justify.  

3. If students are unable to identify rise and run values, provide necessary feedback to move them forward with their thinking.  Refer to Rise over Run: (if your school system does not allow YouTube access, you may download the video using

Refer to:


4. The teacher should be sure that students are using slope correctly to verify parallel lines. 

5. Groups will discuss properties discovered and begin justifying their ideas; along with creating equations and graphs to match their tables in the calculator.

6. Allow students time to prepare attractive posters to share with the class to begin discussions about parallel, along with having the groups share their findings using the Smartview function of the calculator.

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Assessment Strategies


Use the rubric provided to assess student work individually and as a group. Students should justify all reasoning stated on poster. The Assessment Process is on-going. The teacher should visit each group and ask questions to make sure students apply the properties of parallel line definitions. Post the posters in the classroom and have students present conclusions. As students present posters and graphing calculator finds, they should compare posters for other information not listed on their group's poster.


Extensions can be used  to include formal proofs in geometry or have students justify the properties of parallel lines using coordinate proofs.


Groups can be random or you can select groups to allow struggling students to find slopes using formulas or inputting infomation into calculator for graphs. 


For extra practice or for students who were absent, have them visit What is the slope of a staircase? (if your school system does not allow YouTube access, you may download the video using 

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.