Friday, July 14, 2017

Building Data Fluency - Visually And Literally

ASIDE 2017
In this data-rich world, our students face growing amounts of statistical content. That's why we believe  teaching graphicacy is vital to the modern classroom. We develop ways to incorporate visual literacy and visual thinking in some capacity in most assignments and consistently look for ways that students can transfer content from a linear to visual format. This process enables them to connect more deeply with the material. The graphs in this post represent statistics on immigration that our students used to build graphs for a project-based learning unit on immigration.

ASIDE 2017
Each student studied a particular immigrant group for the project. For the graph assignment, they gathered the data for their group’s country of origin, as well as immigration data for two other countries. They recorded the information in a table format for five consecutive decades. While the organization of the data gave them a quick overview, the disparity in size of immigration over the course of 50 years was not immediately evident.

ASIDE 2017
Giving the students the opportunity to literally construct the graphs allowed them to experience visual data firsthand. Using the decades along the horizontal axis was easy; however, the vertical axis required a bit more intellectual work to determine the coordinates for plotting the data. Some had to revise their decisions several times by reexamining the numbers to adjust the coordinate values.

ASIDE 2017
The process of using statistics to construct meaning regarding immigration to the United States as visual data reinforced their understanding from both a historical and mathematical perspective. The students could visually see the highs and lows by group over time in addition to the places where immigration intersected or overlapped.

ASIDE 2017

Using statistics is an effective tool for learning. Since we know that our students will encounter numbers on a daily basis, the more we can do to build in data analysis, the better they will be able to make choices based on evidence and authenticity. Visual data is used in everything from household products to political campaigns. Without the proper skills, learners, like any other consumer, can be misled. Interpreting the pictorial representation of information is an essential skill of graphicacy; all students must master this proficiency.

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