A bulletin board bar graph is the perfect tool to bring together data and discussion--and it can be as simple (read: quick) or complicated (read: time-consuming) as you desire to make it.
PERSONALIZE YOUR CLASS VOCABULARY LISTS
I use bulletin board bar graphs within the framework of Comprehension Based language teaching. One of the reasons that I love Comprehension Based teaching so much is that it lends itself very easily to designing student-created vocabulary lists. Any given target structure (usually a high frequency verb or chunk of words) can become the jumping off point into an entire set of vocabulary. When learning the structure "tiene miedo de" (is afraid of), for example, you can find out what your students fear. Their list of fears can becomes part of the class's vocabulary--even if you never write it down in formal list format. Having personalized class vocabularies is so much more valuable than a textbook-created list because the words matter to your students.
HOW TO CREATE A BULLETIN BOARD BAR GRAPH
A great cross-curricular activity to do whenever you poll your class on something (like what they're afraid of, where they want to go on vacation, how many siblings they have, etc.) is to create a bar graph. I have found that the easiest and most fun way to do this is by creating a "bulletin-board" bar graph. To do this...
- Have students draw a picture of their "vote" (what they're afraid of, where they want to go on vacation....etc.). It can be labeled or not, and it can be a quick sketch or a high quality drawing. It should be done on a fairly small piece of paper (post-it notes work well, or I use quarter-pages) so that the finished product won't be monstrous.
- Then, you simply collect all of the pictures and form a bar graph from them: stack all of the spiders on top of each other in one column, the "dark" next to them, and ghosts beside them (I'm giving fear examples, if you didn't guess!). You can tape them up on your board (or post-it them on, if you used sticky notes) or create a longer-lasting, more visually stimulating one on a bulletin board in your room or in the hallway.
- If the bar graph is on your board, you can ask students questions about it while they look at it. If not (or if you need your precious board space!), take a picture of it and either project it or print out individual copies. In the picture, you can see a handout that I created using a picture of a graph with information about what natural dangers my students thought that people fear most in Alaska.
COMMON CORE ALIGNMENT
To meet Common Core Standards, students must be literate in all forms of media: charts and graphs, cartoons, advertisements, infographs, etc. This activity gives them an opportunity to practice that standard. Additionally, you will make the math teachers at your school happy by asking math questions about the graph using word problems.