Teaching with Data Visualizations

One of the tools I plan on using with my 8th grade social studies students would be Google Trends. I feel like this tool is great for connecting student to the “relevance” of a certain word based on internet searches that were completed. For example, my students are just finishing up a unit that connected historical examples to the current event happening with Donald Trump. I could easily show my students when the subject of impeachment became a hot topic as far as internet searches. Similarly, I could show students the relationship between searches about impeachment and searches about Donald Trump. Students may find it interesting how at times spikes in searches for both of these topics happen at the same time.

Another tool I can see myself using with my students come springtime is Freedom on the Move database of runaway slaves. This is because students typically end the year with talking about the Civil War, and I think this database would absolutely be helpful in showing students how slaves were viewed and the place they had in American society in the time leading up to the Civil War. I personally found the advertisements to be enlightening in the way that they show how these people were treated like property since slave owners were offering rewards for the return of the slave they were looking for. Having students search for advertisements on their own using this site would hopefully give them more of a lens on the issue of slavery in America during mid-1800s. Furthermore, this site could definitely be useful in helping students understand causes of the Civil War in a more meaningful way because it incorporates historical artifacts of the time. I could see myself having students complete a Quick Write about their reflections after using this database and put it into context with what they are learning about the events leading up to the war.

Generally, I love the idea of using data visualizations to give students more of a connection to what they are learning and definitely want to incorporate most of the tools covered in class with my students. This is because I think many middle schoolers feel disconnected to historical events and because of that not have a grasp on their impact. However, having a visual to accompany a topic can show students its historical relevance and put it into perspective. Therefore, using data visualizations to supplement lessons is absolutely something I will be doing in my future teaching.

One Reply to “Teaching with Data Visualizations”

  1. One interesting point regarding Google Trends is that it demonstrates to students how their online behavior is monitored and tracked. Certainly raises privacy concerns and ties to the idea that they are leaving source material for future historians studying our era.

    In regards to runaway slaves – a fascinating story – Henry “Box” Brown – he arranged to have himself shipped in a box to abolitionists in the north. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Box_Brown

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