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Graph of the Week

This weekly routine will help your students become critical thinkers, engage them in current or historical issues, increase their ability to read graphs, and allow you to insert more social justice into your curriculum all in one straightforward activity. Wow!

Visit Kelly Turner’s website, Graph of the Week, to access all her resources!  There you will find …

  • graphs for every week

  • a prompt for students you could use or modify

  • a list of resources for where to find graphs

Turner uses the same prompt every week with her students:

The Student Writing Prompt:

Analyze the graph below and write a reflection on what you think the graph is communicating to you. To guide you with your response, start with some observations.

  • What is the topic of the graph?

  • What do the x-axis and y-axis represent?

  • What are some observations you can make based on the graph?

  • What do you foresee happening about 5 years from now?

Questions to ask yourself when reading graphs:

  • Is there an upward or downward trend?

  • Are there any sudden spikes in the graph?

  • What is being compared in the graph?

  • What prediction can I make for the future?

  • What inferences can I make about the graph?

An example from a BTR Grad algebra teacher (with student work)

Suggestions for use:

  1. Create a clear “graph of the week” (GOW) routine. The teacher above used the GOW in the Do Now. Students were responsible for finishing their analysis by Friday at the end of the Do Now. You might use GOW as your entire warm-up every Monday. Or as HW every Friday. Whatever the routine is, teach it to students, practice it and give them feedback on it.

  2. Decide how you will assess these. Suggested criteria include:

    • Can correctly identify the topic of the graph

    • Can correctly identify what the x-axis and y-axis represent

    • Makes accurate and detailed observations

    • Can accurately identify trends

    • Makes a prediction that is supported by evidence from the graph

Share this criteria with students.

  1. You don’t have to use Turner’s prompts. You can write your own that focuses on the skills you want students to practice (e.g. close observation, making predictions, etc).

  2. Keep the prompts simple and consistent until students are used to this routine.

  3. Complete the first GOW as a class. Use individual think time, some small group and whole group sharing to get students used to the format of the task. Have them assess good and not-so-good examples so they develop an understanding of the criteria.

  4. Come back to a whole-class GOW if students get sloppy with their analysis later in the year.

  5. Involve students! Ask students to bring in any graphs that look interesting from the paper/internet for extra credit. Or, ask students what they are interested in and look for a graph on that topic.

Thank you to Steven Lai.