Archive for September 2nd, 2010

Graphing Ideas for Whole Group, Center and Guided Math Lessons

Posted on September 2, 2010. Filed under: Graphic Organizers, Guided math, Math Centers, Math is a Language | Tags: , , |

The beginning of the school year is a great time to start your graphing routines.  At my schools we do Friday Graphing Days.  We devote Fridays to fun graphing activities and problem solving.  On Graphing day, we collect some data (birthdays, clothing, food, pets etc.).  We do this as a whole group activity in the beginning of the year.  As the year progresses, the students can do some of these activities in centers.  When I am teaching them to record their own graphs, I pull small groups.

 *October is National Cookie month.  I read Cookie Count this fantastic pop-up book and then we vote for and graph our favorite cookies.  Then, of course we have a cookie party. 

 Important Steps for Graphing Activities:

We collect, plot, analyze and then interpret and discuss the implications of the data.  It is important to do all the steps.  Oftentimes, we tend to collect, plot and analyze but rarely interpret or discuss the implications of the data.  I think we should collect data that we use.  So students begin to see graphing as more than just something we do in school.  So, although graphs like “How many buttons do you have?”  are fun…would we ever really do that in real life and for what reason?:)

 Use the data:

For instance, we would graph how many people are right-handed and how many people are left handed and then we would discuss the implications.  If we have 2 left handed people, what does that mean?  Do we have enough left-handed scissors?

 Work that data set:

We can use that same data set in different types of graphs over a few Fridays.

We can make a frequency table, a tally chart, a pictograph, and a bar graph.

 What they look like:

Make sure your BAR graphs pass the 5 finger rule: title, categories, numbers, label on the x axis and label on the y axis. Often times we forget to label the axis! We have to REMEMBER to LABEL the AXES.  This is on the tests that the upper elementary students have to take and they often miss it.

Oftentimes in the primary grades we do object graphs.  For example, if we are graphing pets, we put up pictures of all the options.  On most standardized tests, they have 1 symbol that represents however many votes.  In the primary grades we can do 1 symbol 1 vote.  By second grade we should be doing 2 or more votes per symbol.  (So students have to skip count to calculate the total votes).

 Have the students make their own graphs at some point.


When talking about graphs make sure you emphasize the use of math words.  Once we have a graph up, the first question I  ask is:

1.  What did you notice?  What wows you?

2.  What do you wonder?

3.  What are some questions we could ask about our graph?

       What was the most…?  What was the least?  How many…?  Why?


 cut and paste this url:

 MUST SEE SITE FROM JMEACHAM (ENOUGH IDEAS TO LAST YOU THROUGHOUT THE YEAR!!! You can work the ideas up and down…be sure to label all the graphs correctly:

 More ideas:      

Must read articles:

 Great Teacher Resource Graphing Books:

(be sure to click on the books and buy the used ones that are in good shape….I get some of my books for like 50 cents plus shipping!)

 Bonus Stuff: 

The great candy graphing lesson plans

*Be sure to look for tomorrow’s post on glyphs! It’s a really cool way to collect data:)

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