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Making choices is hard. Even when it comes to simple things like deciding what to eat for breakfast, there are tradeoffs: eat what tastes good, or what’s good for us?

In this lesson, students plot points with positive and negative coordinates in order to compare items across two different attributes. They use the plots to decide which item is the “best” in different scenarios, and discuss whether or not negative numbers always represent the “opposite” of positive numbers.

Students will

  • Assign integer scores to attributes of different items (e.g. a taste score to breakfast foods)
  • Plot different items in the coordinate plane according to their attribute scores
  • Interpret the meaning of the origin in different contexts
  • Come up with a single number to find the “best” item in a category, based on its coordinates
  • Discuss the meaning of the word “opposite” in mathematical and non-mathematical contexts

Before you begin

Students should have experience plotting points in the first quadrant. It also helps if they know about the existence of negative numbers, and can plot them on a number line.

Common Core Standards

Content Standards
Mathematical Practices


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