# Use Real Life Graphs like this for teaching students mathematics!

As an educator, I know the importance of connecting content to the real world. It’s truly one pf the most powerful ways to spark student interest for basically any topic you are teaching. At times, teachers (and I include myself here), are at a loss for what to use. I sometimes will ask myself…”Should I use the material in the text?” “Should I try finding something online?” “Do I have time to search for material?” “What do I think will spark the students interest?” (This should always follow the question of “What are my students interested in?”… For most classrooms today, students/kids are interested in online games and material.

So where am I going with this introduction??? I was tweeting some information and I came across a tool that counts visitors that have come to your website. Since I haven’t been blogging in some time (due to personal/family issues), I was truly curious where my blog ‘stands’…i.e. am I getting anyone to read my material?? So I clicked the link and saw a great graph! Of course, due to the nature of my thinking, I immediately thought…”Hey, this would be a great tool when teaching students how to read graphs!!” How would I use it?

Here is my idea of using this graph and the tool as a teaching moment…

**1- INTRODUCTION TO LESSON:** I would ask students what they know about graphs… What information can a person gain from a graph? Why do we use graphs? Why are they important? Why is the skill of understanding graphs important (For real-world purposes- not because it’s on the FCAT!) These would be the questions I would begin the lesson with. I would probably integrate some cooperative learning techniques; students sharing their ideas with each other, maybe groups coming up with their ideas on a chart, a brainstorming web…etc… Then I would allow students and groups to share their ideas. (I typically use group roles: captain, secretary, reporter, etc… and I’d call on one person, i.e. reporter, to share their information)

**2. TEACHING PORTION OF LESSON** I would then put up this graph, ask them what type of graph is it? What do they think this graph is measuring? (correct any misconceptions that I hear from answers and discussion around the room) I would then tell them what the graph is and ask a few questions and then I, most often, like to have my students create their own questions and answers. Sometimes I have them write the questions on an index card with the answers on the back. Once I’ve looked over their questions, we could play a game such as “Stand up, hand up, pair up” which is a Kagan Cooperative Learning Structure. Students would rotate around the room quizzing one another.

**3. ON THEIR OWN (portion of lesson) ** Having found this tool, if I have student bloggers, I’d allow them to find their own graphs and create a quiz based upon it. I may also have them look for and find graphs on the internet to share. (When I give students an activity like this, they usually work in their groups and I will provide a variety of websites to use.)

**4. SHARING (culminating the lesson)** I do not typically leave the lesson ‘open’… Lessons usually need some type of closure and review of the activity. I may ask students to come to the carpet (and yes, middle schoolers need movement and having them sit on a carpet can be a good thing…you, as the classroom teacher need to know your class and whether this would work. (P.S. for it to work, you have to have introduced the procedure and used it a few times- otherwise random movement around the room can create chaos that you don’t want.) We would end the lesson with students sharing what they learned and how to they see the use of graphs affecting their lives. Questions I might ask might be: “Where else would you see a graph like this?” “How might knowing how to read this graph help you to read a completely different type of graph?” (which I would have an example of to show students- important for connecting content to other information/content) I always allow students to share items they have found (the next day) if they decide to do some of their own research at home; perhaps even displaying this work around the classroom!

Well- there you have it… A lesson plan for the graph on my blog visitors. I hope it helps and if you have your own ideas or think of something that could be included…Please share with me! I love learning and more ideas mean more tools to use in the classroom!!

The link that I used to find this graph was through www.twittercounter.com