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C1 Understand and use the equation of a straight line, including the forms

y - y1 = m ( x - x1 )

and ax + by + c = 0 ; gradient conditions for two straight

lines to be parallel or perpendicular

Be able to use straight line models in a variety of contexts

C2 Understand and use the coordinate geometry of the circle including

x - a) + ( y - b) = r2

2 2

;

completing the square to find the centre and radius of a circle; use of the

following properties:

• the angle in a semicircle is a right angle

• the perpendicular from the centre to a chord bisects the chord

• the radius of a circle at a given point on its circumference is

perpendicular to the tangent to the circle at that point

Commentary

Many of the aspects related to straight lines are covered at GCSE; the sample

resource included below is suggested as a first lesson, in which students are given

the opportunity to work collaboratively to find the answers for themselves rather than

being taught all the techniques.

Students will be familiar with the formula y = mx + c for a straight line but perhaps

won’t really appreciate that it describes a relationship between the coordinates of

every point that lies on the line; in focusing too much on m and c students can lose

sight of what the equation of a line really is.

y - y1 x - x1

=

y - y1 = m ( x - x1 )

Both and y2 - y1 x2 - x1 use the important idea of a variable point

( x, y ) on the line. For lines which do not pass through the origin, recognising

x y

+ =1

as the line passing through the points (

a b a, 0 ) , ( 0, b )

is often helpful. Students

should be thinking when each form for the equation of a line is the most appropriate

to use.

Rene Descartes’ idea from the 17th century (relatively recent in the development of

mathematics) in using a coordinate grid allows geometrical problems to be tackled

using algebra. Drawing attention to this type of contextual background will increase

students’ awareness of the ongoing development of the subject and enable them to

see links between different areas.

P : ( x, y )

Typically diagrams of circles show the variable point to the right and above

( a, b ) thereby making the equation ( x - a ) 2 + ( y - b ) 2 = r 2 quite

transparent using Pythagoras’s Theorem; think about this as P moves round the

circle.

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Sample MEI resource

‘Tilted Square’ (which can be found at http://integralmaths.org/sow-resources.php) is

intended for use in the first Coordinate geometry lesson. Designed to be a paired

activity, the ideas involved are not far removed from GCSE and the activity will

support students in building upon their GCSE knowledge and discovering the ideas

involved at A level.

1. What question would you write on the blank card?

2. Which cards would be challenging for A level students with a target grade C?

3. How would you make the activity easier or harder?

4. How much lesson time would you give it?

5. What notes would you want students to make related to this activity? What

support may some students need to record these notes?

‘Equation of a circle’ (found at www.mei.org.uk/integrating-technology) helps

students to see the role of Pythagoras’s Theorem in the equation of a circle and to

make links between the algebraic and geometric representations.

Tell me the coordinates of any points on Change the radius so the resulting circle

the circle? passes through the origin

Which two points have x-coordinate of As P moves around the circle to points

2? where, for example, x < 4 , why is it still

What is the link between the coordinates

true that (

x - 4 ) + ( y - 3) = 9

2 2

equation of the circle?

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Coordinate geometry (AS) Time allocation:

Pre-requisites

GCSE: Pythagoras’s Theorem, straight line graphs and some circle theorems

Surds & indices: Familiarity with surds is useful

Quadratic equations and graphs: Completing the square

Links with other topics

equations which give direct relationships between x and y; parametric equations

allow us to describe lots of other curves…

Questions and prompts for mathematical thinking

Make up three questions that show you understand how to choose from

y - y1 x - x1

y = mx + c, y - y1 = m ( x - x1 ) , =

y2 - y1 x2 - x1 when finding the equation of a

straight line.

Tell me three ways, which are essentially different, of determining whether three

points A, B and C lie on a straight line.

x - 4) + ( y - 2) = 9

2 2

through all four quadrants.

Opportunities for proof

Prove that the product of the gradients of perpendicular lines (which are not

parallel to the axes) is -1.

Prove that for any integers m, n where m > n > 0 the triple

( m2 - n 2 , 2mn, m2 + n2 )

is a Pythagorean triple.

Common errors

x1 - x2 y1 - y2 y1 - y2

When finding gradients using y1 - y2 or x2 - x1 instead of x1 - x2

x - a) + ( y - b) = r

2 2

instead

of (

x - a) + ( y - b) = r

2 2 2

Except for the mid-point formula, all formulae should have a minus sign in the

binomial term. Students using a ‘+’ instead; for example y2 + y1 when

calculating gradients.

Difficulty dealing with fractional and/or negative gradients when finding the

equations of perpendicular lines.

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