Empower Your Students with the Graph Type Matrix!
Revolutionize your approach to teaching graph choice.
Are you looking for a way to help your students better understand how to choose the appropriate graph type for their data? Or to comprehend why others choose the graphs they do?
Discover the Graph Type Matrix Resource and the accompanying "Creating Graph Type Matrix" activity—tools designed to revolutionize your approach to teaching graph choice!
Get an overview of the Graph Type Matrix, see how it works, and understand the benefits for both teachers and students.
Why Use the Graph Type Matrix?
Our Graph Type Matrix is a unique resource that shifts the focus from merely creating graphs to understanding when and why to use specific graph types.
Developed to align with K12 standards like Common Core Math, Next Generation Science Standards, and NCSS Social Studies Standards, as well as commonly used visuals in print and online news media (e.g., The New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, CNN) this resource is a gamechanger for data literacy.
GradeLevel Specific Resources
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (BEGINNER AT WORKING WITH DATA VISUALIZATIONS)
There are 4 graph types that elementary school students should learn to view, work with, and create:

Bar/Column Charts

Choropleth Map

Line (Dot) Plot (1 axis)

Pictograph

Pie Chart
As a note, this does not mean that students in elementary school cannot work with other graph types, but rather these are the ones that they should be working with repeatedly and mastering in Elementary School.
“Creating ES Graph Type Matrix” activity materials: This file includes the Graph Type cards, empty Key worksheet, and completed Graph Type Matrix Resource (summarizes these graph types by question type and descriptive words we use to describe these kinds of data).
MIDDLE SCHOOL (ADVANCED BEGINNER WORK WITH DATA VISUALIZATIONS)
There are 7 graph types that middle school students should learn to view, work with, and create (4 new and 3 repeated graph types from elementary school):

Bar/Column Charts (repeat)

Box Plot

Choropleth Map (repeat)

Histogram

Line Chart/Graph (2 axes)

Line (Dot) Plot (1 axis) (repeat)

Pictograph (repeat)

Pie Chart (repeat)

Scatter Chart/Plot

Symbol Map
As a note, this does not mean that students in middle school cannot work with other graph types, but rather these are the ones that they should be working with repeatedly and mastering in Middle School.
“Creating MS Graph Type Matrix” activity materials: This file includes the Graph Type cards, empty Key worksheet, and completed Graph Type Matrix Resource (summarizes these graph types by question type and descriptive words we use to describe these kinds of data).
HIGH SCHOOL (INTERMEDIATE WORK WITH DATA VISUALIZATIONS)
There are 8 graph types that high school students should learn to view, work with, and create (2 new and 6 repeated graph types from elementary and middle school):

Bar/Column Charts (repeat)

Box Plot (repeat)

Choropleth Map (repeat)

Bubble Chart

Histogram (repeat)

Line Chart/Graph (2 axes) (repeat)

Line (Dot) Plot (1 axis) (repeat)

Pie Chart (repeat)

Scatter Chart/Plot (repeat)

Stacked Bar Chart

Stretched Bar Chart

Symbol Map (repeat)
As a note, this does not mean that students in high school cannot work with other graph types, but rather these are the ones that they should be working with repeatedly and mastering in High School.
“Creating HS Graph Type Matrix” activity materials: This file includes the Graph Type cards, empty Key worksheet, and completed Graph Type Matrix Resource (summarizes these graph types by question type and descriptive words we use to describe these kinds of data).
ADVANCED HIGH SCHOOL / COLLEGE (ADVANCED INTERMEDIATE WORK WITH DATA VISUALIZATIONS)
There are 11 graph types that upper high school and undergraduate students should learn to view, work with, and create (3 new and 8 repeated graph types from elementary and middle school):

Bar/Column Charts (repeat)

Box Plot (repeat)

Bubble Chart (repeat)

Choropleth Map (repeat)

Histogram (repeat)

Line Chart/Graph (2 axes) (repeat)

Pie Chart (repeat)
Scatter Chart/Plot (repeat) 
Stacked Area Chart

Stacked Bar Chart (repeat)

Stretched Bar Chart (repeat)

Symbol Map (repeat)
As a note, this does not mean that students in upper high school / undergraduate cannot work with other graph types (or that these graph types cannot be introduced earlier), but rather these are the ones that they should be working with repeatedly and mastering in upper High School and in College.
“Creating Upper HS/UG Graph Type Matrix” activity materials: This file includes the Graph Type cards, empty Key worksheet, and completed Graph Type Matrix Resource (summarizes these graph types by question type and descriptive words we use to describe these kinds of data).
Key Benefits
We have designed and refined with teacher feedback these resources to be focused around the following key benefits:
For Educators =
 Empower students to independently choose appropriate graph types.
 Foster critical thinking about data representation.
 Save time by reducing the need to constantly direct graph choices.
For Students:
 Develop skills in selecting the right graph type based on data and questions.
 Gain confidence in making and interpreting graphs.
 Enhance understanding of data visualization.
How to Use the Graph Type Matrix
Educators can run this as an activity with their students (often early in the school year or once they find it). Then it often lives as a reference resource, on the wall, in their digital notebooks, etc. Educators refer students to it when students are making their own graphs and/or when students are working with graphs other people have made.
PREPARING TO RUN THE ACTIVITY:

Download the “Creating Graph Type Matrix” activity slide deck and documents (materials linked below by grade bands).

Make a set of the activity for each small/partner group within your class.

A copy of the Graph Type cards, cut into individual cards.

A copy of the Key worksheet


Print a copy of the Graph Type Matrix Resource to share with each student AFTER the activity.
FACILITATING THE ACTIVITY:

Review the Graph Types with your students ahead of time.
As a note, depending on your students prior knowledge, you will need to determine how much to review the graph types ahead of time but be mindful that this is designed to be less of a test of their knowledge of how to make different graph types and more of an experience to build their skills and understandings of why to use different graph types.

Challenge each small/partner group to complete their Keys by putting the Graph Type cards in each of the open boxes on their Key worksheet.
As a note, there are fewer graph types than open spots on the Key worksheet as some graph types can be used for Comparison and Distribution questions.

Once everyone has attempted to complete their Keys, have them share their Keys and explain their reasoning with another small/partner group. Make sure each group is able to share their reasoning.
As a note, depending on your focus on the activity, you can ask the students to come to a consensus together where each graph type should go within the open spots or let them maintain their original decisions.

After a few minutes, project the empty Key worksheet on your smartboard or screen and have different small/partner groups make suggestions for each open spot. Encourage the students to share their explanation and reasoning behind their placement of each graph type within the Key. Use pg. 3 as an answer key to double check your students responses.

After the class has created a shared version of the Key worksheet, share with them the graph types aligned with the kinds of questions and description words as a printed (and/or electronic) resource that they can use going forward.
Download the Resources
Get started by downloading the "Creating Graph Type Matrix" activity materials relevant to your grade level. Each file includes Graph Type cards, an empty Key worksheet, and a completed Graph Type Matrix Resource.
Coming Soon  See Links AboveWant More?
 Read our detailed article in Science Scope (January 2019): Data Literacy 101: Which is the Best Graph to Use?
 Enroll in our Confusion to Clarity: 3 Steps to Master Graphing minicourse.
 Join our Data Literacy Bootcamp series to explore deeper concepts in data literacy.
 Explore the suggested resources that others have developed regarding Graph Choice.