Here’s To One More Change

I think that the one word that best encapsulates everything I’ve done this year is “change.” As I explore inquiry more, I seem to try something, reflect on it, change it, and try it again. Today wasn’t much different.

I’m starting to think that in life, everything happens for a reason. I was supposed to be out at an Inquiry PD Session all day today, but we had a supply teacher shortage, so it turned out that I would only be out for the afternoon. This meant that I got to do the introductory math activity today. Yesterday, we started looking at different types of graphs, charts, and tables, and the best scale to use for different graphs. Today, the students began by brainstorming different types of data that they could graph, and then they created two types of graphs: one that would be best represented using a larger scale and one that would be best represented using a smaller scale. We used Chalk Talk in the hopes that every student would have a voice to share his/her ideas!

After the Chalk Talk, we shared ideas as a class. It quickly became apparent that students had topics that were best suited for small scale graphs, but not large scale ones. They didn’t even know topics that would be best suited for these other graphs. With some prompting, I got them to think about precipitation amounts and total dollar sales for different employees, but this was a struggle. Students were going back to graphs of favourite colours, favourite subjects, and favourite video games. 

Now I see why we have to make math meaningful. How often have we had students graph the same things? Why does it matter that we create graphs on these topics? How do they help us? So what was I going to do now? In 10 minutes, I was on my way to a PD session, and my plans needed to change. I’ll admit that my solution may not have been perfect, but it was the best I could do at the time (I think). I told my supply teacher what I noticed, and suggested that she get encourage the students to make the small scale graphs first. I knew that they would probably only get one graph made anyway (which they did), and I figured that I would re-explore the large scale ones tomorrow (which I will).

The plan worked, but what do I do now? Here are my thoughts: I’m going to collect data (larger figures) that people may actually graph. I’m going to try to get a combination of discrete and continuous data, so that we can review these terms as well. Then tomorrow, I’m going to have students work in groups to graph these figures, and we’ll discuss the reasons why they chose the scales that they did. I also want to discuss what would happen if they chose different scales, and why people (or companies) might make these choices. This could be a nice segue into our Media Math Project (Media Literacy and Graphing).  What do you think? Could this plan work?

As I sit here pondering this option, I can’t help but think back to our Inquiry PD Sessions from today. Yes, I’m the type of teacher that likes to be well-prepared. I always plan a week in advance. I even record my planning minutes here. But all of this being said, my jump into inquiry this year has made me realize that I might plan ahead, but I need to be willing to change based on my observations of students’ needs. So for now, here’s to one more change! 🙂


5 thoughts on “Here’s To One More Change

  1. Always the reflective one Aviva. This is the same thing that I ask myself when dealing with data management. How do we connect to the things that students are interested in? I find that this is where social justice can come I to play. I know that I say this a lot but it brings meaningful discussion to data management and subjects in general. I try very hard to pick things that students would have relevance to the students life or current events. I am thinking about know stats about typhoons or about how much money was raised by different countries. There is also data about daily food banks and relating it to poverty rates. Some times I put a graph up and we just talk about it. Throughout the year we also talk about why these subjects make our lessons more meaningful, not that favourite colours, food or pets aren’t meaningful but the purpose of data and graphing is so we can do something g with it; what can we do with those simple graphs? What change can we inspire? These are the questions I ask them.

    Your also right about inquiry, you never know what you will get. Students open new doors to learning every minute.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Jonathan! It’s really funny, as I’ve never met you before, but as I was writing this post, I thought, Jonathan’s going to suggest Social Justice Issues. What Social Justice Issues could I use? What examples would he suggest? Thanks for giving me some! I’ll tell my students tomorrow that Mr. So helped me out! 🙂 You’re awesome, Jonathan!


      • Since writing this blog post and conversing with Jonathan about it on here and through Twitter, I’m starting to question my approach. I wonder if I gave students different graphs to look at (with bigger scales, smaller scales, and/or the same data displayed in various ways), could they talk about what they notice? Could they discuss the different scales and come to realize why we make the decisions that we do when it comes to choosing a scale for a graph? Today the students proved to me that they could make graphs to scale. They created graphs with scales of 2’s and 5’s, and chose their scales appropriately. We’ve graphed numerous times in the past, and students have chosen appropriate scales then too (they’ve just always been smaller scales of 2’s, 5’s, and sometimes 10’s). If students understand now though when to use bigger scales, then couldn’t they make graphs using them? Could this be part of our math congress reflect and connect stage instead of a new activity to try? What do you think? I’m starting to question the purpose of what I was doing in the first place, and I’m starting to wonder if our Media Graphing Project will actually accomplish this as well. Thoughts?


        • Your right. I don’t think they do need to make them. If you already have seen them do this then why do they have to do it again. What is your learning goal? To interpret larger scale graphs and extrapolate the data and make meaning of it. Then looking and talking about graphs will do this. Plus you will see it in the media one too.

          • Thanks Jonathan! Yes, students need to eventually create graphs using different scales, but even their various scales of 2’s and 5’s shows that they can do this. I just want them to see why they might use larger scales and why scales may vary (in a real-life context). Students can get to all of this by interpreting the graphs. And they’ll get to make more graphs (including likely ones with larger scales) through the Media Graphing Activity. I think that this might be the right way to go.

            Thanks (again) Jonathan!

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