Curcio, Frances, and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 2010. Developing Data Graph Comprehension. Third Edition. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
Frances Curcio is clearly the expert in teaching young people how to understand data and graphs. Since at least the late 1980’s, Curcio has worked with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) to publish various iterations of a book focused on data and graph comprehension. Curcio has also written academic articles about the same topic. The 2010 edition features 30 activities for the classroom that involve mathematical reasoning and communication. Based on the publisher’s description on Amazon, the book encourages ways for students to take information from their daily lives and the media, and then process and understand and visualize that information.
Prior/Related Editions and Reviews:
Curcio, Frances R. 2001. Developing Data-Graph Comprehension in Grades K-8. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
- Harkey, Cecilia. 2002. “Developing Data-Graph Comprehension in Grades K-8″ (Review of Second edition). Teaching Children Mathematics 8 (9): 552.
- Laing, Leneda J. 2002. “Developing Data-Graph Comprehension in Grades K-8, 2ND ED.” Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School 8 (2): 122.
- Moritz, Jonathan. 2002. “Developing Data-Graph Comprehension in Grades K-8 (Book).” Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom 7 (3): 22.
- Curcio, Frances R., and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1989. Developing Graph Comprehension: Elementary and Middle School Activities. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
- Carman, Robert E. 1990. “Developing Graph Comprehension: Elementary and Middle School Activities.” The Mathematics Teacher 83 (6): 480
- Goodman, B Joan. 1991. “Developing Graph Comprehension: Elementary and Middle School Activities.” The Arithmetic Teacher 39 (3): 58-59.
Kimmel, Sue C. 2012. “The School Library: A Space for Critical Thinking about Data and Mathematical Questions.” Library Media Connection 30 (4): 38–39.
The author, a professor at Old Dominion University (Virginia) argues that the school library can and should support mathematical inquiry, because school librarians have experience with integrating curriculum across disciplines and designing and implementing inquiry-based learning opportunities. She gives school librarians examples for how a librarian can bring math into the school library: rooting math questions and math discussions in literature, using manipulatives to help learn math concepts, and exploring reference materials to gain experience with reading graphs. She cites McKinney and Hinton (2010) who advocate for including literature in math instruction to give math more meaning, encourage math conversations, allow for investing math questions, and as a source of visual math representations. She points out that such lessons can support both the National Council for Teaching Mathematics Principles and Standards for School Mathematics as well as the AASL’s Standards for the 21st-Century Learner.
Roberts, Kathryn L., Rebecca R. Norman, Nell K. Duke, Paul Morsink, Nicole M. Martin, and Jennifer A. Knight. 2013. “Diagrams, Timelines, and Tables-Oh, My! Fostering Graphical Literacy.” The Reading Teacher 67 (1): 12–24. doi:10.1002/TRTR.1174.
Argues that young children need to be able to understand graphics found in informational texts and points out that the Common Core makes references to graphical literacy. Compares graphical literacy to reading literacy by explaining how graphical literacy requires an ability to know what graphs are and “how they work”. Defines several “concepts of graphics” and explores at what ages kids demonstrate an understanding of each concept. Concepts of graphics include: “action, extension, importance, intentionality, partiality, permanence, relevance, and representation”. Suggests that teachers encourage graphical literacy using similar techniques to teaching general literacy, such as thinking out loud. Details a research project where they showed graphics to students and asked them to explain what they could know from looking at the graphic. Researchers note that some kids could understand a lot and interpret a lot from a graphic, but that most kids do not understand important concepts of graphics.
English, Lyn. 2012. “Data Modelling with First-Grade Students.” Educational Studies in Mathematics 81 (1): 15–30. doi:10.1007/s10649-011-9377-3.
Author Lyn English reports one year into a three year study on how first grade children model data. English argues that there is a need for research exploring the ways young children demonstrate statistical reasoning. Emphasizes using statistical reasoning to answer questions of interest in the classroom. Uses storytelling to explore math problems and activities. Describes aligning lessons with teachers and the students’ curriculum. Details a quasi experimental study where children use post-its to represent and organize data collected on the types of trash and recycling in a storybook, and where children describe their reasons for organizing them in certain ways. Finds that children are able to articulate what information is important to include when representing data.
Friel, S. N., F. R. Curcio, and G. W. Bright. 2001. “Making Sense of Graphs: Critical Factors Influencing Comprehension and Instructional Implications.” Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 32 (2): 124–58. doi:10.2307/749671.
Authors Friel, Curcio, and Bright (faculty at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Queens College of the City University of New York, and University of North Carolina at Greensboro respectively), argues for teaching graph comprehension and proposes the term “graph sense” to describe the ability to interpret and apply concepts from graphs. Provides a history of guidelines and research about creating graphical displays. Claims educators focus on having kids create graphs, but that it is important to teach why we use graphs. Suggests how to teach graph comprehension at the K-8 grades. Students demonstrate graph comprehension across three abilities: extracting information, interpreting information, and extrapolating or interpolating patterns from graphs. Shares guidelines about what skills kids can do and understand at each age/grade. During grades K-2 emphasis is on tallying frequencies.
Related Research and Readings
- Curcio, Frances, and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 2010. Developing Data Graph Comprehension. Third Edition. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
- Curcio, Frances R. 1987. “Comprehension of Mathematical Relationships Expressed in Graphs.” Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 18 (5): 382–93.
Kirsch, Irwin S., Ann Jungeblut, and Anne Campbell. 1992. Beyond the School Doors: The Literacy Needs of Job Seekers Served by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The authors write for the U.S. Department of Labor and Princeton Educational Testing Service, reporting on how adults respond to three types of literacy tasks often required in jobs: prose literacy (articles, stories), document literacy (job applications, graphs, maps), and quantitative literacy (invoices, loan advertisements). In the report’s section on document literacy, the authors point out that adults spend more time reading and working with documents (tables, forms, schedules, charts) than they spend on other reading materials. Provides reasons (relevant then and now) why document and quantitative literacy is important for success in a career and in life. People must be able to understand where on the document to find various types of information, how to avoid being misled by inaccurate or confusing documents, and be able to assess how relevant a document is for their needs. The gist of this report is in line with the idea that students should be spending more time reading informational texts in the K-12 curriculum. The authors create five levels of complexity or difficulty for tasks that require use of documents: the easiest level includes locating or entering literal information, the second easiest level requires making inferences or integrate information, and as the levels increase, the task requires making more inferences or navigating more complex displays.