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Roots Solutions Zeros X-Intercepts Posters

I’m here today to share some Roots Solutions Zeros X-Intercepts Posters. Yes, that is a mouthful.

Yesterday, I started doing some serious planning for teaching Algebra 2 in less than a month! I’m at a new school that has adopted new textbooks, and I’m not exactly the biggest fan of the chosen Algebra 2 book.

I wouldn’t say the book is necessarily bad, but I would say it’s not as aligned to the Oklahoma Standards as it tries to make you believe.

Of course, this view is also coming from the teacher who has made it a point to not use a textbook for the most part over the past six years.

I guess you could say I’ve been silently sulking and avoiding all planning for Algebra 2 as a result. Yesterday, I decided to change my attitude.

Instead of focusing on what I don’t like about our textbook, I decided to look through the textbook for something I did like. I skipped over all the examples and stuff and went straight to the questions. Guess what, there were some great questions there!

Once I started looking for the things that would be helpful instead of the things I hated, my mood turned completely around. For the first time this summer, I was able to start thinking about exactly what I want my Algebra 2 class to be.

Looking through the second unit on quadratics, I got distracted. I remembered reading something on twitter that I had included in one of the early, early, early volumes of Monday Must Reads (Volume 4 to be exact!)

zeros roots solutions tweet

What I said about teaching my students that roots, solutions, zeros, and x-intercepts is definitely true. I didn’t know that there was any difference myself, so I never thought to teach my students that these words meant slightly different things.

And, I went on with teaching and life not knowing any better until this tweet ran across my radar. Of course, by the time it did, I was no longer teaching Algebra 2. So, I saved it away in a Monday Must Reads post until it would come in handy once again.

Now that I’m teaching Algebra 2 and Pre-Calc next year, I’m thinking once again about these topics AND I’m thinking about how to decorate my new classroom.

Matt shared an awesome visual last year that also made it’s way into my Monday Must Reads post.

expressions have roots. equations have solutions. functions have zeros. graphs have x-intercepts.

The more I teach math, the more I realize the importance of teaching students to use precise vocabulary. And, I want to continue this with my Algebra 2 and Pre-Calc classes this year.

So, I set off to take Matt’s visual and make it into a poster that could decorate my new classroom.

Here’s what I came up with.

Expressions have Roots Poster
Equations have solutions poster
Functions have zeros poster
Graphs have x-intercepts poster

I was feeling pretty proud of my poster design, so I decided to share the posters on twitter. And, wow, what a response! 19 Replies, 78 Retweets, and 362 likes later (as of the time of this writing), I now realize that this is a very contentious topic.

Most people seem to be okay with solutions, zeros, and x-intercepts. Roots, though. Peoples’ thoughts on when you should and shouldn’t use the word “roots” is all over the place.

From what I can tell, there isn’t a clean cut, right or wrong answer. People pretty much use the words however they want. And, we’re all pretty attached to our opinions.

Until I know better, this is the version I’m going with. And, I think that’s the approach we all need to have in education. We teach what we know until we know better.

Maya Angelou said it better: Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” 

That being said, I’m about to share my posters both as a PDF and as an editable Publisher file.

If you use the terminology slightly differently in your classroom, please feel free to edit these to match what you believe to be best. 

Roots Solutions Zeros and Intercepts Posters hanging in high school math classroom.

No matter how you decide to use these words in your classroom, I think we would all benefit from thinking critically about the vocabulary we use and ask our students to use in our classrooms. 

Normally, I would print posters like this on 11 x 17 cardstock. But, I’m not sure if I will have the capability of printing on that size of paper at my new school. So, I’ve also created an 8.5 x 11 version. 

I combined these posters with the function expression equation poster my husband created to create a bulletin board.

roots solutions zeros x-intercepts bulletin board high school math classroom decorations


Thursday 20th of February 2020

Some of our district math tests instruct students to "find the solutions" of a function f(x). I try to tell other teachers that it should say "find the zeros", or possibly the x-intercepts. I am not having much luck though.


Thursday 12th of December 2019

Using these definitions, what exactly would the roots be of (x-3)(x-5)? The values for x that make the expression zero?


Wednesday 25th of July 2018

I learned the difference from a Pearson text when first teaching Algebra I. Thanks for the visual. Vocabulary is important.

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