Schottenbauer Publishing

Friday, April 24, 2015

Using Graphs in Writing Projects

The first topics that come to mind when asked about the use of graphs in education are math and science. Perhaps surprisingly, graphs can also be used in language and writing classes, beginning in fourth grade. How can graphs be used in elementary, middle, or high school language classes? The following show several graphs, with examples of literary analyses of the graphs: 

Sample Topic 1. A short written response.

Sample Question: Describe the following graph in words. 

Sample Answer 1: This graph shows the force of hands hitting a drum. Sometimes there is low force (10 N), and sometimes there is high force (100 N). The low force causes a quiet sound, and the high force causes a loud sound. The loudness of sound is not shown in the graph.

Sample Answer 2: In this graph, a drummer hits a force plate with bare hands, similar to the surface of a drum. The impact has different level of force, ranging from 10 N to 100 N. The force probably is associated with different types of techniques used, although there is no data provided about technique. The force probably is also associated with dynamic volume and decibel level, although there is no data provided on these variables.

Sample Topic 2. Comparison and contrast.

Sample Question: Compare and contrast the following two graphs.

Sample Answer 1: These graphs shows the sound pressure associated with singing the syllable "ah." The top graph shows a sample two seconds long, and the bottom graph shows a sample 0.03 seconds long. These differences are relevant because the first graph shows a "big picture," and the second graph shows a "close-up." The first graph also shows a sound sample centered on 0, varying approximately 0.1 upwards and downwards on the graph. The second graph shows a sound sample which is not centered; rather, it varies from 0.07 to -0.11 on the graph.

Sample Answer 2: The singer's performance was analyzed twice, producing these two samples. The first graph shows a longer sample than the second. In a long sample, it is impossible to see the actual sound wave, because it is blurred together. In the second sample, the wave is clearly shown, but it is very short.

Sample Topic 3. Research project.

Sample Question: Write a 10-page paper about music.

Sample Answer 1 [Process]: The student decides to write a paper about sound waves, and searches through the multi-volume graph books Where Does Sound Come From? and How Do You Play That Thingamabob? The Science of Music Performance, selecting several graphs. The student also searches an encyclopedia and the internet for information about sound waves, sound generation, and microphones. The paper begins with an explanation about the function of sound waves in music, and then provides approximately one graph per paragraph as an example within the paper. Each graph provides a different example of a sound wave. Some examples contrast high and low, loud or soft, and long or short pitches; other examples compare woodwinds, brass, strings, and percussion.  The final result is a 10-page paper plus appendices. Because the project is educational and not for publication, the student makes photocopies of 10 graphs, and attaches these in an appendix to the paper. 

Teachers can energize students by allowing them to focus on exciting topics of interest to them. Schottenbauer Publishing features over 8,000 graphs, collected into multi-volume series and anthologies in the following categories:

Book Series with Original Graphs

Anthologies of 28 Graphs
  • The World in a Graph
  • Sports [Multiple Volumes Available]
  • Transportation
  • Construction
  • Music
  • Play

A full listing of graph topics from Schottenbauer Publishing, indexed by book series and data type, are available in a Teacher Resource Guide from the publisher. Free blogs with graphs, discussion questions, and videos are also available from the publisher online.

Additional Information