Wing Span

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Students will be able to gather data and create a bar graph to compare information.

Big Idea

Many students create bar graphs and can explain questions like "more than" and "less than", but are not accustomed to actually gathering the data and building the graph from the ground up. This engaging lesson requires students to do all of the above.


10 minutes

To open the lesson, I explain to the students that graphs are used to display data in an easy way to compare information of different things, or to observe trends.  I then place the terms "bar graph, line graph, plot graph, and interpret" on the board. The students are asked to write what they think they know about each of these terms in their math reflection journals

Following the appropriate amount of time, I ask several volunteers to express what they wrote and think. 

Next, I challenge the students to create a bar graph with a partner. 

Active Engagement

25 minutes

The student partnerships are given the attached Bat Wing Span Article about the nine bats found in Michigan. Within the article, there is information on the wingspan of each bat.  The students are asked to read and gather the wingspan data, organize it in their math journals, and then display the information on a bar graph.

As they work and I converse with them, I am watching to see how they set up the graph.  I am confident that my students can color the bar to the correct number, but today is about making choices in how to communicate data after gathering it. 

These boys are finding choosing an interval challenging.  I let them try and revise several times before I ask them to explain their thinking.  As you listen, you will also see where they are drawing in extra lines on the graph paper as one of their solutions. 


10 minutes

To close the lesson, student partnerships trade their graphs and check for similar work.  If there are differences, they are asked to discuss within a larger group how different decisions were made. 

However, everyone had the same data.  The differences were that some teams colored the bars representing each bat in different colors.  The discussions between students was a good one, as many realized that the color coding made the data easier to see and compare.