Analyzing Graphs and Drawing Conclusions with the New York Times

Do you need a new approach to getting your students to analyze graphs, draw conclusions and even evaluate the reliability of the information? Well, I just saw this on another blog I follow, Teacher Tech with Alice Keeler, and was intrigued by the instructional activity that encourages students to participate in an online moderated conversation about the data and their observations. Graphs display information about politics, policies, pop culture, and daily life topics, bringing in a variety of content related to most classrooms. Students 13 and older can participate in the online moderated conversation, but don't let this discourage you if you teach younger students. Have a whole group discussion and use the teacher account to add the comments, allowing students to have that online learning space opportunity.

The 3-day process of analyzing graphs and contributing to the online discussion with the New York Times is the same each week.

1. On Tuesdays, the New York Times releases a new graph on the website. Students and teachers formulate their own interpretations of the graph using the "I Notice, I Wonder" protocol. There are 3 simple questions to help promote their initial thinking:
    • What do you notice?
    • What do you wonder?
    • What might be going on in this graph?
Using the prompts students formulate and insert their own thoughts in the comment box. Once your students have posted, instruct them to read through other posts and reply to someone else. (What a fantastic, meaningful and authentic way for our students to practice being a good, responsible digital citizen.) 

2. On Wednesdays, an individual with American Statistics Association leads a deeper conversation in the graph and people's interpretation in order to get students thinking about their own understanding. 

3. On Thursdays, the New York Times will post the information related to the graph and students can analyze their own interpretations with the correct information. Encourage your students to post follow up observations and evidence based on what they have just learned.

For more information about this instructional strategy, I encourage you to visit the introductory post that includes the "I Notice, I Wonder" protocol. The website also has a calendar of the 25 Wednesday posts to help you plan which weeks to include this activity into your lessons. Let me know if you participate in this learning activity by posting your experience in the classroom and how your students are growing in these critical 21st Century Skills. 

After learning more about this learning activity, I found that The New York Times also has a "What's Going on in This Picture?", where students practice visual thinking skills and use evidence to support their claim. Pictures, without the captions, are revealed on Mondays and students use the same "I Notice, I Wonder" protocol that will drive the online conversation. Visit the link again on Friday of the week for the revealing of the caption and any other pertinent information that went along with the picture.


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