Engaging students: Making and interpreting bar charts, frequency charts, pie charts, and histograms

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission comes from my former student Johnny Aviles. His topic, from Pre-Algebra: making and interpreting bar charts, frequency charts, pie charts, and histograms.

green line

A2. How could you as a teacher create an activity or project that involves your topic?

I would create a project where my students would make and interpreting bar charts, frequency charts, pie charts, and histograms. First, I would begin by using the class as data by asking them questions and use a specific chart for each question. For example, I would ask “who here is Team iPhone? Team Android? or who doesn’t care?” Essentially, I will be separating the class in select groups based on their preference of phone. I will then create a pie chart of the class based on their choice. I then would do more examples of the other charts and explain the purpose of each one and when to use it. After some more examples and practice for them to familiarize themselves with the charts, I will assign the project. I would then divide the class into 4 groups and evenly assign a chart to each student to find a real-world example to apply and create their own specified chart that they’ll present. (I divide the class to ensure that every chart gets represented.) The purpose of the project is for all the students to not only be exposed to all the charts but to also apply them and understand the use for each one.


green line

B1. How can this topic be used in your students’ future courses in mathematics or science?

In terms of mathematics, bar charts, frequency charts, pie charts, and histograms are very essential forms of data. These charts are widely used in nearly every future math or science course of students. As appose of a large spreadsheet of data that is hard to interpret, this topic provides a more organized and visual way to provide that collected data and to find useful information. A great example of using this topic is statistics. a spread sheet in given and then transformed in the form of a histogram that would give information of its distribution. With this chart, one can find things such as mean and standard deviation. Statistics also test hypothesis that require data to decide whether or not a certain drug would be effective based on data from frequency charts or histograms. These charts are also widely used in science. They can record the population of a given species, growth of bacteria in a given time, surveys, etc. There are endless possibilities in which these graphs can be applied in students’ future subjects.

green line

C3. How has this topic appeared in the news?

With the vast categories the news covers, there are many examples where bar charts, frequency charts, pie charts, and histograms have been used. The news is for the common people and the common person has socially acquired a short attention span. The news can’t just give a sheet of numbers and expect people to know what it means and let alone look at it. These charts are provided for everyone to be given vast amounts of data gathered in aesthetically pleasing chart that can be quickly interpreted. The weather uses data from previous years to predict what we could be facing in terms of temperature and rain on any given month or season. Sports are all stats that have been recorded and can predict the outcomes of future games and players stats. When a top new story unravels, news channels are quick to look up stats that relate to story and compare data for the viewer. These charts appear in the news frequently and are vital to be comprehended to future students.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.