Teaching Graphs Can Be Fun If Data is Important to Kids
Teaching graphs and charts can be fun in math if graphs such as stem and leaf plots and box plots display data that is important to kids. Once again, it's all about
because they will pay attention if the data is about them.
Data collection and analysis - teaching graphs and charts - is a regular part of my class. Rather than stopping and doing a separate unit, I use it as a tool throughout the year to help children analyze how they are doing. Graphing their own progress means a lot more than just looking at pictures in books which have no meaning for them.
I regularly deliver data after each test to show students where their score falls within the set of class data. It seems to be a motivating factor for many, and there are no names so only they know which scores are theirs.
Since box plots appear on the Common Core, this is the method I use to display class data. We then work with those scores - their scores - to figure the mean, median, mode, and range of the scores. We also figure the quartiles to create a box plot.
My experience has been that since these scores are about them, squarely in their context, they learn the vocabulary much more readily. And, as always, it is about understanding the terminology - the
Language of Math
Math Meets Reading
Teaching math really is about language, and teaching graphs and charts is not just an objective for math teachers. The skill appears in reading and language arts curriculum as well. Why?
Comparing and analyzing information from graphs and charts are ways of thinking and processing which are skills necessary for reading. Not only that, but graphs and charts appear in subjects like science and social studies, too, so there are lots of opportunities for practicing this important skill.
Adding emphasis in these other areas will strengthen all of them so if you are not teaching those subjects to your students, you might consider asking those teachers to give extra attention to this very important topic.
Go to Language of Math from Teaching Graphs and Charts