Graphing Stories

I absolutely loved Dan Meyers Graphing Stories! I rounded them all up into a single Powerpoint presentation, and watched them with my 7th grade class last fall. All I forgot was popcorn (…next year)!

After the viewing, I told them that they were all going to get to make their own Graphing Stories.  I put them into groups of four, and then assigned each group a graph characteristic, either vertical, horizontal, increasing, or decreasing.  (About fifty percent of their graphing story needed to be their “assigned” characteristic.)

After the groups brainstormed and planned, we hit the outdoors to film!  We filmed their 15 second stories around our beautiful campus with my iPhone. I uploaded their videos to YouTube and then they went to work!  It was the beginning of the year, and they were all new students to me thus I had just introduced them to Google Spreadsheets.

Graphing Story Requirements:

  • The presentation must be done on Google Presentations (so that the four group members could easily share and work at the same time).
  • Fifty percent of the graph needed to be the assigned graph (vertical, horizontal, increasing, or decreasing).
  • Use Google Spreadsheets to create the “answer” graph.
  • Create a “blank” graph with label axis so that students could label their graphs.
  • Create an activity sheet with a blank graph and summary questions.
They worked so hard – and this was a very difficult project for them because they were new at Google Spreadsheets and had never used Google Presentation before.  It took them longer than I had anticipated.  The end results were beautiful and creative.  Some of the graphs were not as “exact” as they could have been, some bumps were left out.  But, I was so proud of them that I did not even take off that many points for the errors.  I have included links to their movies below.
Now, seven months later Dan has created a Graphing Stories website and very generously offered to create beautiful Graphing Stories videos from stories we all send in!  I am excited about this extension of their graphing stories for my students.  This is perfect timing for them as we have just begun reviewing material in preparation for their final.  Going over their graphs in order to submit their stories will be a great way to review.  And I am so excited that their Graphing Stories are going to the next level.
7th Grade Graphing Stories
I can’t wait to watch all of the new graphing stories that Dan pumps out next year with my rising 7th grade.  I think it will be fun for kids to watch them as homework, and then present their favorites the next day.  I know it will be fun for them to watch their class mates as well!

6 thoughts on “Graphing Stories

  1. I loved watching these and the ppts too! I can imagine the great discussions – like when the person turned around to run back, or whether to draw a straight or curved line!


  2. Hey Sam!
    That is exactly what happened with that graph. And, the best thing is that it keeps on happening because this is a great resource that can be used over and over. I showed the 6th grade these presentations to “throw down the gauntlet” for them yesterday. Only a few put thought to put the graph change in there for when she turned around. This graph has actually been a great learning tool because it is different from the others (it is total distance, not elevation). Many of the kids draw a parabola before remembering that we are talking distance. It also brings up great discussions about the steepness of slope. Their answer graph was pretty consistent, but I bet it we analyzed it closer, the slope would be steeper when she is running down the hill as opposed to running up. And, even if it isn’t, it is still great material to talk about! It also gets the kids so excited about math. I think several of my 6th graders may make graphing stories on their own now.

  3. Hi Julie, I teach 7th and 8th grade math in Kodiak, Alaska. School is ending here tomorrow but I plan to use the graphing stories idea next year. I’m going to try to make a sample (and send it to Dan for his project.) May I contact you if I have any questions about logistics of this lesson? I would love to use your format if that is ok. Thanks, Alex

  4. Hey Alex,
    I would love to help you out! Just let me know what you need. And please use my format – sharing resources is my favorite thing about the online math teachers community!

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