Real-data Graphing with Gapminder (Updated)

If you have not seen GapMinder yet, it is a must from every math and history teacher!

I was introduced to this amazing graphing software at a conference, and I was so excited to play with it and use it in my classroom. The "how" of using it was a bit vague, however, and the craziness of getting back to my classroom after three days out distracted me from the goal of figuring it out.

Well, when the Common Core put statistics back into Algebra 1, it pushed me forward. I am so grateful. I want my students to understand numbers in the context of the larger world around them. This is the perfect tool!

What is GapMinder?

If you have never heard of it before, feel free to take a look at the video below. Please know that the great part of the software is the depth of the data. You can change the x and y-axis to reflect data on world health, environment, family size, or GDP, among others. You can change the countries to be shown by selecting them from the right or you can select them all. GapMinder truly allows a teacher to meet the needs of their students!

The Lesson Plan

I created a task for my students to complete while taking their first look at GapMinder for my Modeling Linear Data Unit. The program introduction helps them to understand the notation and symbolism while incorporating the mathematics of independent and dependent variables, creating a table from a graph, and understanding how to read a graph. The class time must be structured to be valuable as I am still in training mode and this was the perfect way to achieve discovery and structure in one step.

Thinking Ahead ...

I am excited to see what my students do with this software. While I was playing around with it, I changed the y-axis to the number of children and left the x-axis as GDP. It was amazing to see -- in numbers -- the history I thought I understood. I have so many Bosnian students that escaped the war in their country. To focus on Bosnia and see the turmoil the war caused in their country was extremely powerful. I can see the history teacher using this to track the main players in WWII. You can identify the major dates or even show them the graph and have them research the reasons for the discrepancy in the graph. All very powerful.

Common Core Standards

I am working on creating lessons using this software to help students understand box and whisker (S.ID.1), correlation coefficient (S.ID.8), central tendencies(S.ID.2), and line of best fit (S.ID.6). I can see the outliers (S.ID.3) being very powerful as well with this software. I am very excited about the possibilities.

How will you use GapMinder?

Please share how you think this software can be used in the classroom. I would love to hear from you! And be sure to pin it for future reference!

Teach statistics using This fantastic program will allow students to work with real data to understand statistics.


How to Use Gapminder to Teach Statistics (S.ID) in Algebra 1