How Graphing Stories Allow My Students to Create

As we enter our 4th unit in my grade 9 applied math class, students have discovered measurement relationships; linear and non-linear relationships/correlation; and characteristics involving proportionality. Obviously, for this topic students will need a good graphing calculator so I would suggest looking at this graphing calculator comparison if your students don’t have these yet. We are now beginning to extend the concept of proportional relationships to linear relationships both with and without an initial value. At the beginning of this unit, we typically explore the Ontario MFM1P curriculum expectation:

LR4.02 – describe a situation that would explain the events illustrated by a given graph of a relationship between two variables (Sample problem: The walk of an individual is illustrated in the given graph, produced by a motion detector and a graphing calculator. Describe the walk [e.g., the initial distance from the motion detector, the rate of walk].);

I break this expectation down into two learning goals that is a little easier for the students to chew on:

#1 – I can write a graphing story that could represent a given graph of a two-variable relationship.

#2 – I can sketch a graph that matches a written graphing story of a two-variable relationship.

Although the second learning goal isn’t really outlined in the curriculum, I think there is value to having students be able to sketch a graph matching a written graphing story.

My Usual Tool: Calculator Based Rangers (CBRs)

While the CBR’s are a great tool to allow students to explore distance-time relationships by completing a TIPS4RM activity called “Walk This Way,” I wasn’t able to get my hands on any and thus had to steer away from the usual. Turned out to be a great way to get me to think a bit differently about how I introduce this concept.

I remembered coming across a Dan Meyer project called Graphing Stories a few months back and this threw me into a great position to really give this resource a shot! If you haven’t stumbled upon this resource, you really need to check it out. Here’s a sample of one of the 21 graphing story videos:

Graphing Stories - Height of Waist Off Ground vs. Time
What a perfect way to really make these learning goals come to life. While I will likely lead an activity like “Walk This Way,” I’m realizing that the activity itself probably needs a bit of life pumped into it. Is it real world or real work? Are students really excited to use the CBRs after the first couple activities? How can I better bring out the curiosity of the learner?

Making Graphing Stories Even Better

The videos on the website are great, don’t get me wrong. However, in a recent blog post by Dan Meyer, he discusses some of the reasons graphing stories doesn’t do a great job developing the question. Because of this, I have been working to split the videos up into a “3 act mathematical story” format. I’ll be happy to share with Dan and the Graphing Stories team when complete.

What We Did…

Yesterday, we looked at some of the graphing stories and students made their predictions, we shared out and then we watched the answer. It was great seeing students watching HARD to get their graphs as accurate as possible.

Student Watching a Dan Meyer Graphing Story
Here’s a student work sample after watching Elevation of a Plane:
Lauren Student Work Sample Graphing Stories

Last Night’s Homework…

With all the fun we had with graphing stories, I assigned students to create their own videos and to make a prediction of what the graph should look like. Here are a couple videos that came back with student work samples (coming soon):

Height of Waist vs. Time

Height of Bouncy Ball vs. Time

Height of Rock vs. Time

Due to the video edits, this one produces an interesting graph…

Height of Ball vs. Time

Height of Saddle vs. Time

The discussion was great and the learning was rich. If you’re coming up on a learning goal similar to this one, definitely utilize the awesome Graphing Stories videos!
How are you empowering your students to CREATE rather than simply consume math? Comment below.