How to Graph Exponential Functions by Hand - free cheat sheet and step-by-step video

It's possible that my favorite functions to graph are exponential functions. They look super intimidating at first with their parenthesis and exponents in the air, but by taking them step-by-step, first creating a parent table then shifting this table to find coordinates to graph, they come together before you know it. Graphing exponentials is one of my favorite things to teach. I say this about most of the topics we cover in the course, but I see so much growth in students during our exponentials unit that it's hard not to love it. At first, students aren't even sure where to start. By the end of the week, they're graphing like champs. In this post is a video and a free graphing exponential functions cheat sheet. The cheat sheet can be given to students for their notebooks or enlarged to create an anchor chart (link to directions on how to do this easily is below).

Here is a step-by-step video on how to graph exponential functions by hand.

The process of graphing exponential functions follows a pattern no matter what the a value, b value or the x and y shifts are.

Here is the basic parent table that we can use to graph any exponential function. After identifying the parent function, we get a after plugging in 0 and ab after plugging in 1. Simple! We then shift this parent table based on the h and k shifts we see in our function.

Here is the free graphing exponential functions cheat sheet that I referenced in the video and that I give to students as support. It walks student through the steps of graphing and an important reminder that x shifts opposite. The cheat sheet can be given to students for their notebooks or enlarged into an anchor chart.

I added an exponential functions reference to my algebra word wall after a few teachers messaged asking for it. It shows the basic table pattern and the vocabulary associated with these functions.

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