Are All Graphs Created Equal? (Day 1 of 2)

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SWBAT create relevant and accurate graphs to effectively analyze laboratory data.

Big Idea

Your students spend all of their time and effort collecting the data, but what happens next? This lesson will guide your students through the necessities of creating a graph and analyzing the data to understand what the data actually means!

Video Introduction: Graphing Review is Essential!

1 minutes

This lesson was an essential review of graphing basics.  I initially thought all students would breeze through the content, but a majority of the class needed the refresher!  With the implementation of NGSS, data analysis and graphing is crucial so this lesson is even more important!  Enjoy the lesson and come prepared with patience as your student get ready to graph!




Hook - Are All Graphs Created Equal?

5 minutes

Do your students know what type of graph to create once they have collected all of their laboratory data from their experiments?  This quick anticipatory activity will get your students thinking of data, data, and more data!  

Data analysis is the key to a successful laboratory experience for all students.  Our students need to understand what they did (the procedure), what happened (the data), and what it all means (data analysis) for each and every lab activity.  This lesson reinforces data analysis so students will slow down and dig deep into the data to develop a conclusion that is rooted in data and scientifically sound!

This information has been transcribed on the front board to serve as a guide for the next two days as we review the essentials of graphing:

When should you use each type of graph?

  • Bar graphs—best for making comparisons among data
  • Double bar graphs—best for comparing two sets of data
  • Line graphs—best for showing change over time
  • Double line graphs—best for comparing two sets of data over time
  • Pie/Circle graphs—best for showing data that are parts of a whole

As a whole-class discussion, students will provide examples of data they have compiled in prior science classes or in their personal lives.  

For example: the growth rate of different kinds of plant seeds, the relationship of height versus horizontal jump distance, or the time it takes for chemical weathering to occur with different types of acids on a human tooth.

The five most realistic or applicable student ideas will be numbered and recorded on the board.  Students will work with their neighbor to decide which type of graph will best represent each set of data from the list on the board. Students will record their responses on their Bell Question Sheet.

A group discussion will follow to confirm the correct responses and provide an explanation for each example.

Direct Instruction - Guidelines for Graphing Data

25 minutes

Students will need to get out a sheet of paper and title it, "Lecture Notes: Introduction to Graphing".

The content of the lecture notes may be review for some students, but as a 9th grade Biology class it is essential to ensure that all students comprehend the expectations for graphing data.  By taking the extra time in the beginning of the year to review the basics, students have a clear understanding of the process necessary to create an accurate and effective graph.  Students are reminded that a quality graph is the best way to represent their laboratory data to their audience!

Students are encouraged to use the opening activity's list on the front board which identifies the appropriate situation to use each type of graph to represent different types of data.



Independent Practice - Getting Up Close And Personal With The Data

20 minutes

Students will use the Graphing Practice Handout to analyze "Procedure #1's" data table and create a sample graph to illustrate its meaning.  The sample of Student Work - Procedure 1: Bubble Fun exemplifies the attention to detail necessary for successful completion of this activity.

After the students have had time to complete the activity, they will review with their graph with their neighbor.  Students will analyze the graphs for appropriate titles, x and y axis labels,  intervals, and plotting accuracy.  Once student pairs have discussed and corrected their graphs, student volunteers will provide responses in a whole-class review.

Since the 9th grade students came from different middles schools, it is important to review the basics that were covered in the power point presentation to ensure that all students fully comprehend the expectations for graphing data.  With the new shift to NGSS and Common Core, it is essential to place an emphasis on data analysis so the students are be able to fully comprehend their lab data and be able to share it with their peers.  

Close - Let The Data Be Your Guide

5 minutes

Students will complete the Practice Graph labeled, "Procedure #2" as homework in an effort to build confidence and ability in graphing laboratory data.  A sample of  Student Work: Diabetes Graph has been included to exemplify the major parts of a graph that were discussed as part of this lesson.

Students are reminded that data and data analysis are the most important aspect of scientific experiments.  If the experimental measurements are not represented in an accurate format then the laboratory investigations will be compromised. Students need to emphasis the importance of effectively graphing data in an effort to demonstrate each lab's quantitative measurements.

Again - the question is asked, "Are all graphs created equal?" .  .  . and the answer is "NO!"

There will be more graphing practice in Day #2: Graphing Extravaganza!