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Overviews of Visual Math Types 

This unit discusses several ways to represent math visually. In addition to what the unit reviews, there are many other types of visual math. The following sites each provides an overview of different types of visual math.

  1. One of the most visually appealing, informative, and interactive overviews of visual math is Google’s Chart Gallery, which can be found here: https://developers.google.com/chart/interactive/docs/gallery
  2. This site classifies types of visual math by the purpose that they serve: http://www.mymarketresearchmethods.com/types-of-charts-choose/
  3. It seems appropriate in a unit on visual math to have an overview of charts presented in a chart! This site provides a chart of charts, with a touch of (informational) humor: http://elearninginfographics.com/graph-and-chart-types-infographic/

Specific Types of Visual Math 

There are several types of visual math that appear throughout elementary school and middle school, but that weren’t quite prominent enough to be featured in this unit. Here are some links to sites that describe these “runner up” types of visual math.

  1. Box and whisker plots show how data are spread out: http://flowingdata.com/2008/02/15/how-to-read-and-use-a-box-and-whisker-plot/
  2. Stem and leaf plots also show how the data are spread out, but they do so in a unique way that preserves all of the original data points: https://www.mathsisfun.com/data/stem-leaf-plots.html
  3. Venn diagrams are helpful in many fields but especially in math. This site provides a helpful background on sets and then shows how to represent sets with Venn diagrams: http://www.mathsisfun.com/sets/venn-diagrams.html
  4. As students become exposed to probability, one of the first visual math examples they will come across is the tree diagram. This site has more info: https://www.mathsisfun.com/data/probability-tree-diagrams.html

Tips for Using Visual Math 

The following two videos offer some pointers on the value and also the dangers of visual math.

Florence Nightingale’s creative use of a chart was mentioned briefly in the webinar for this unit. Here is a video that goes into more detail about Nightingale and her use of visual data:


Visual math is powerful, and this is not always a good thing. Watch this short video on some of the misuses of visual math:


Using Visual Math to Interpret the World 

One of the reasons students should learn visual math is because it can make math more accessible. However, from an even broader perspective, students should learn visual math so that they can better interpret and influence the world around them. The following two sites are maintained by two experts in data visualization. Try clicking around on the sites and seeing the power and beauty of visual math at its finest. Warning: The sites are addictive!

The first is Nathan Yau’s site, Flowing Data. Yau’s collection includes his own graphic works as well as intriguing examples of visual math that he comes across. For most of the graphics, Yau provides a helpful critique of both the data and how they are portrayed. This website is updated very regularly.http://flowingdata.com/

The second is Data Viz Project. Rather than waste time and space with words, Dadaviz this focuses on a collection of powerful infographics assembled from across the Internet. https://datavizproject.com/

Module: Helping Students Do Math

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