I think it is fair to assume that analyzing the relationship between variables on a graph is an important math skill. Making sense of the enormous amount of data coming at us and needing to make a decision based on the data necessitates a way to organize and understand it. Graphing helps with that need.
The Common Core standards support this. Analyzing the relationship between variables on a graph is included in a priority standard in every math course (Geometry excluded) from 6th grade to high school.
- Sixth graders are asked to Analyze the relationship between the dependent and independent variables using graphs and tables….
- Seventh graders must Explain what a point on the graph…means in terms of the situation….
- Eighth graders must Describe…the relationship between two quantities by analyzing a graph….
- Algebra 1 students must Relate the domain of a function to its graph and to the quantitative relationship it describes….
- Algebra 2 students continue their work with linear and quadratic functions, and begin their work with exponential and piecewise functions. They are asked to Construct and compare linear, quadratic, and exponential models….
Engaging students in the process of analyzing the relationships between variables through the use of stories via video is a way to get even the least motivated student interested. Many such videos already exist and are available as a free resource.
An early set of videos were created by Dan Meyer and are found in a 2007 blog post. In the post, Meyer shares ten videos he created to introduce a linear unit to his Algebra 1 class. The scaffolded videos are engaging, and allow entry into the skill. Below is an example taken from this set.
The second set of videos were created when Meyer teamed with the BuzzMath Website and created “Graphing Stories: Fifteen seconds at a time.” These videos have been created in the same format that Meyer used in his original videos, however they were crafted by an assortment of people. Each video is tagged with the type of relationship being highlighted: linear, piecewise, parabolic, increasing, or decreasing. Graphing Stories: Fifteen seconds at a time is good for all levels as the purpose is to help students conceptualize the relationships between the variables.
Other teachers, inspired by Dan Meyers, created their own videos and shared them on You Tube. They include: Figaro, Biking, Dunk Tank, The Slide, Hill, and Canoe Distance. A couple of folks even made videos to graph systems of equations. Take a look at Man and Girl and Running.
As we’ve observed by attending data team meetings this fall, all staffs are emphasizing common instructional strategies. Peppering your lessons with sporadic video clips or providing them for homework support is a means to deliver non-linguistic representation two-fold, through the activity of graphing and video. In the end, you’re targeting a priority standard with a high-yield instructional strategy. In the immortal words of Matthew McConaughey in his Academy Award acceptance speech: “Alright, Alright, Alright!”