## Monday, March 10, 2008

### Even More Ways to Use the Newspaper in Algebra I

After Wednesday's TAKS Reading test, I tried to make Thursday as easy as possible while still making sure we learned something. Most students had finished most or all of our Newspaper Math group work on Tuesday, but I wanted to follow up with more work on interpreting data graphs.

In Part 1, students were asked to find a data graph, analyze it, draw conclusions and create a question about it as part of their assignment. For Part 2, I pulled 5 different data graphs from the paper (bar, circle, line and two that incorporated multiple graphs) and asked the kind of questions they're usually asked on the test:
1. What's the independent and dependent variables?
2. What's the trend/pattern/correlation/main idea of the data graph?
3. Based on the data, which of the following statements is true/a valid conclusion?
4. Which graph accurately reflects the given data?

I hope you don't dismiss this as just another worksheet, because in truth I only posted this for use as an example. My students were a bit more invested in this than your standard issue work because the graphs were pulled from the local newspaper, I wrote the questions myself, and they are asked a variety of questions in a variety of ways. It took about an hour to find the graphs and write up appropriate questions.

We also talked about why we need this skill before we started, and I showed them six different questions from their last benchmark where they could use these data graph analysis skills to answer them correctly. Six questions is about a ten percent swing on that test, which is the difference between passing and failing for many students on the bubble.

Most importantly, this skill is required across many of our state objectives:
Objective 1
(A) The student describes independent and dependent quantities in functional relationships.
(D) The student represents relationships among quantities using [concrete] models, tables, graphs, diagrams, verbal descriptions, equations, and inequalities.
(E) The student interprets and makes inferences from functional relationships.

Objective 2
(C) The student interprets situations in terms of given graphs [or creates situations that fit given graphs].
(D) In solving problems, the student [collects and] organizes data, [makes and] interprets scatterplots, and models, predicts, and makes decisions and critical judgments.
(B) Given situations, the student looks for patterns and represents generalizations algebraically.

Objective 9
(C) construct circle graphs, bar graphs, and histograms, with and without technology.
(B) recognize misuses of graphical or numerical information and evaluate predictions and conclusions based on data analysis.

Objective 10
(A) identify and apply mathematics to everyday experiences, to activities in and outside of school, with other disciplines, and with other mathematical topics;
(A) make conjectures from patterns or sets of examples and nonexamples

For more ideas on using the newspaper in the classroom, check out my book Ten Cheap Lessons: Easy, Engaging Ideas for Every Secondary Classroom. Email me or leave a comment if you have more ideas to share.