Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Create a Graph

My students have started a science project several weeks in advance of reading The Science Fair, the story in Lesson 12 of our Journeys reading series. We have been graphing in math, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to teach them how to use Create a Graph! That way they will be all set in making a graph when they do their projects. I'm going to post a little picture tutorial here for them and for you! (Trust me, it's easy once you model it and kids get the hang of it. I've even pre-filled parts of the data, e-mailed it to myself, and opened it on several computers so that my K and 1 students could use it last year!)

First a disclaimer: due to the fact that this is a free website instead of software, the only way to save something is to go to the Print/Save tab. It saves to your computer, not the website. Therefore, you can only open it if you emailed it to yourself or if you use the same computer. You can edit it later ONLY if you e-mail it or save it with the link! Also, hitting the backspace button can cause you to lose all of your work! Hopefully if this happens (and I hope it doesn't!), you should have a written copy and / or you can autofill the blanks by typing the first letter / number or two.

So here we go, your opening screen. Choose a graph type by clicking on its button. If you aren't sure what type of graph to create, read this.

For our purposes, most students will use a bar graph or a line graph. A couple might choose a pie chart. I'm going to do this with a bar graph, since the process is pretty much the same for all 3 types and most kids recognize them and know their purpose. 

Once I've clicked on Bar, notice the tabs that appeared on the right. This is the design tab. I really don't like the kids to change the grid color or appearance because it takes up so much ink and makes it harder to read. I do allow them to choose shape and direction for their graph (and since I'm such a visual person, I'd choose horizontal for things like rolling or moving and vertical for things like jumping or rising).

Now on to the Data tab. We type in a title and label our x-axis (horizontal) and y-axis (vertical). I always have the students write their name in the Source box because they are collecting the data. Then I typed in the item label (what you're graphing), group label (what the bar means) and value (how much).

If you ever want to take a quick peek at what your graph looks like so you know it's correct, click the Preview tab.

My students have to collect data with three trials, so I changed the number of groups to 3. I also selected different bar colors using the drop down menu arrow. Since I used this birthday chart as a model instead of a science experiment, I am going to show you how it would look if I created 6 separate bars (It won't let me do 12 because 6 is the limit).
Notice the difference in the data table and the preview from the other way we did it.

Here's the same data using a pie chart.
As we talked about in class, you should choose the type of graph that best shows your data visually. As you can see, the range of numbers is close and we have so much data, so the pie chart doesn't make it as very quick and easy to see which month had the most birthdays compared to the bar graph.

I hope you found this useful! I will post again in January about easy ways to use create a graph with math, science, and spelling!

For my students, this should help you create your own.
 You will see your colored lines when you add data to the chart.

Don't forget to e-mail me and / or yourself a copy and print it for your project!

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