When my students worked with graphs, I had three types of tasks:

- Level 1: Read a graph.
- Level 2: Make a graph from a table of provided data.
- Level 3: Gather “real world” data from classmates and make a graph.

But **each task stuck at the bottom half of Bloom’s**. At *best* we’re Applying. So how do we get this up to Analyze, Evaluate, and Synthesize?

### Sell A Fake Story

I’ll reach for a technique that I call “Find the Controversy!” (more about finding controversy here.) Graphs are often PACKED with controversy **because they are a powerful tool to tell lies!**

Is this graph true? Yes. *Kinda.* But it’s incredibly misleading. Mr. Byrd has 51% of the vote and Ms. Chan has 49%. Is basically a tie. But I’ve constructed the graph in such a dishonest way that I appear *much* more popular than my colleague.

This is how we can **inject high-level thinking into this math topic**. Something is true… *yet also sort of false.* That is interesting – and I want to aim for interesting (more about that special word here).

### The Upgrade

So here’s the re-frame of my bar graph project:

- ❌ Ask your friends what their favorite pet is and then make a bar graph!
- 👍 Design a graph that uses true data to tell a fake story.

This is key: **to move math towards high-level thinking, you have to cross content areas**. Our new focus is quite *language artsy*, right? When math is isolated, it stays at the lower levels of Bloom’s. Connect math to language arts, science, social studies, etc and you’ll find the depth. I wrote more about that here.

I’m going to build the task around, “What kind of fake stories do graphs sell?”

We can look at examples of bad graphs and ask **what fake stories do these tell**? I archived this website, which gathered examples of misleading graphs.

For example, this graph makes it seem like ~20% of all children will get thighbone injuries and 5% of all children will have a spinal injury. But, really, it means that 5% of “traumatic orthopedic injuries for which children are hospitalized” are spinal injuries. That is a VERY big difference.

Then, students’ task will be to **use real data to sell a fake story.** Now that is VERY high-level thinking!

In the end, we can tour the graphs. Students can pick the **most impressively untrustworthy graph**. Much better than a “My Classmates’ Favorite Pets” graph!