I’ve been developing a plan to incorporate more data analysis with my Pre-Algebra students. They’re in grades 6 and 7. As you know, when something’s on your mind, you start noticing it all around you. Which might explain how I came across two fun graphs in my RSS reader today.

First up is from Indexed by Jessica Hagy

Next up is from the xkcd webcomic:

Google results for 'died in a ______ accident.'

I’ve noticed a shift recently. More people are using graphs to show ‘data’. (Imagine I said the previous sentence and used air quotes at the end.) Why?

  • The data are entirely subjective but represented in a graph form. Indexed does a fun job with subjective graphs. Graphs like this help visual thinkers understand a statement. “As this variable increases, this other one decreases” isn’t as powerful as a curvy line on a x-y plot.
  • The data are objective but quirky. Want to know what color book is most popular on Amazon on Tuesdays? I wouldn’t be surprised to find a graph…Data warehouses and fast computers mean we can slice and dice our data to find interesting patterns.

Two other influences have me excited about graphing interesting stuff with students: Google’s Zeitgeist and the information design work on dy/dan, Dan Meyer’s blog.

My Pre-Algebra students will start this week by analyzing graphs I give them. We’ll first look at pie and stacked bar charts. The goal is to develop an ability to infer from what they see in these charts.

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