Math = Love: Bar Graphs, Stem-and-Leaf Graphs, Box-and-Whisker Plots, and Circle Graphs

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Bar Graphs, Stem-and-Leaf Graphs, Box-and-Whisker Plots, and Circle Graphs

My Algebra 1 classes recently started their last unit of the year: Data Analysis and Probability.  They will take their end-of-instruction exam on April 11th, so the rush is on to finish the last unit and do a comprehensive review before their first high-stakes high school test.  Given that we will be missing a week for spring break, and I'll be taking off four additional days for my wedding before then, it's super crucial for us to use every moment wisely.  Since it was Friday and all of the basketball players were gone, my students assumed I would give them a free day.  Nope.  Can't we just wait until Monday to start the new chapter?  Nope.

My first skill for this last unit is for students to be able to choose an appropriate representation for a set of data.  We are covering four different representations: bar graphs, circle graphs, box-and-whisker plots, and stem-and-leaf graphs.

I modified a similar foldable I had made for my stats class that was at a much higher level and covered different graphs for my Algebra 1 kids.

This was my students' first exposure to distinguishing between quantitative data and categorical data.  In retrospect, I should have prepared a sorting activity like I used with my statistics students.  Oh well...  Hindsight is 20/20.

Also, ignore the fact that I have one of the graphs in the plural form and all the others in the singular form.  I corrected it on the downloadable file.  This is what I get for throwing this together at the last minute.

Bar graphs, circle graphs, and stem-and-leaf graphs were review for almost all of my Algebra 1 students.  A few had seen box-and-whisker plots before, but none of my students knew how to go about making one.

I decided the best practice we could do was to come up with four survey questions and create four different data representations.  I made these half-sheet forms for students to complete and then put in a pocket in their notebooks.

Bar Graphs:

Box-and-Whisker Plot:

Circle Graph:

Stem-and-Leaf Graph

This ended up taking a class period and a half (50 minute periods) to complete.

My students struggled with coming up with appropriate questions that would yield good data.  So, I had to keep telling them to come up with new ideas.  For the stem-and-leaf graph, all three of my Algebra 1 classes independently decided to do "What is your favorite number?"  I found this to be very interesting!

Files for this lesson can be found here.


  1. Great way to take notes on these!

  2. I wish Stats was placed at the end of the year for us. They have it as our 5th unit and make us take benchmark assessments so I can't change the order too much. They had it between linear functions and systems. I vetoed that this year because the students just get comfortable with linear functions and then take a month off to do stats before returning to systems. So I moved it to after systems. Still a terrible but better than before.

    1. Benchmark Assessments seem like a pain to work around.

  3. Great items to add to that math journal. Thank you for those ideas to get me started