I wanted to allow students to examine different types of current graphs on the internet just for exposure to real life math, and using a graph as a tool for communication. The goal for this lesson is to get kids to think about graphs and interpret what they mean. So we started with our iPads...
I asked my students to work in partners using their iPads to look for graph images. Today, I allowed them to choose their own partners as I counted to 10. They Googled "graphs images" and looked at three different types of graphs. The images were appropriate for 4th grade with this search, but I could have narrowed it down to "graphs about mammals" or allowed students to come up with a topic that interested them.
I then asked them to share their choice with another set of partners. Students shared bar, circle and line graphs.
I asked them to consider 3 things as they read their graph: ( These were written on the whiteboard.)
1. What is the title of the graph?
2. What kind of graph is it?
3. What does the graph say to the reader?
4. Is there comparing going on?
5. Why is this graph important?
After 10 minutes of graph 'reading", I asked my students to go back to their desks for a class discussion.
We shared our answers to the above questions and different types of graphs they found. One student shared that they saw a lot of line graphs and wondered if we would make those sometime? I asked what the line graph showed. We brought the graph up on the SB being careful to only show the graph.( If you scroll down, the questions and answers are similar to mine. I wanted the classroom discussion to take place before I revealed their questions.) It was from this Math Goodies page; Small Town Teens with Cell Phones. ( Turns out this page is a good resource for graph study.) We talked about how one of the axis is labeled in age and then the other is for the amount of teens with cell phones. I asked them if they knew the difference between a line graph and a bar graph? One student said that a line graph had to have an axis that showed time somehow. I asked if "age" was time? After a moment of silence. I said that yes, age shows a period of time. I asked if this graph could be a bar graph? They all said yes. I continued with "What does this graph say to the reader?" One student answered: There are more older kids with cell phones.
I wondered out loud why the 18 year olds would have less? One idea from one student was that students graduate from high school and now they have to pay for their own cell phone and maybe they don't. The questions exercised students reasoning and interpretation skills connecting a mathematical data tool to the real world. I wanted students to understand that graphs convey not only messages about mathematics, but messages that apply to daily lives of people.We took time to just look at this graph and moved on since the discussion was very rich!
I collected copies of various graphs over time from USA Today, different internet sources and from clippings from magazines. Every time I would come across an interesting graph, I would snip it and add it to a manilla envelope. USA Today is a great source because there is always a graph on the first page! graphs to copy, graphs to copy 2,graphs to copy 3,graphs to copy 4
I did this because I appreciate the value of graph reading and interpretation has for students and use them for lessons that support graph reading, logic and mathematical interpretation and reasoning. CCSS 3.MD.B.3 and 4.MD.B.4 are two standards that ask students to create or interpret graphs. In order to create graphs, I think students need exposure to different types of graphs and be able to use those tools to understand data. This little activity is a great way to write across the curriculum, connect math to any topic that is presented to them in a graph, and satisfy writing standards at the same time
I spread my collection of graphs in the center of the floor and asked students to come up three or four at a time and choose a graph. They went back to their desks. I asked them to think about the questions that I had written on the board previously.
I asked them to write a paragraph describing their graph in such detail that someone could draw it from their description. They were to write about their graphs in their writing journals. * We will save these writings for later, type them up in computer class and then swap them. They will have to draw the graph from a partner's description later on.
* This new resource is a good guide for the writing: The Graph Says What?
It should help you organize the notebook writing or guide the student who is struggling with what to write.