Recognizing Misleading Graphs: An Exercise and Discussion

Sherry McLean

DSJ Outcome

Engage in intentional communication with awareness of intent and impact. Explain different types of knowledge and how knowledge construction maintains power, privilege, and inequity.

One of the units in the Math in Society course is about creating graphs and recognizing misleading graphs. We spend time talking about ways that graphs may technically be “correct”, and yet lead viewers to draw incorrect conclusions. We also talk about making assumptions based on graphs –trying to get at the deeper story — and model how to critically analyze the way the information is presented and what things might be left out to consider.

Go through lesson on graphs related to incarceration in the US (showing graphs without labels, using partners to talk about/fill in what they think, note surprises).

Specific lesson plan with videos, discussion points, and end-of-unit assessment where students find a graph related to a social justice issue  of their choosing and then discuss its intent and its impact.

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