I’m a visual person, so it’s no surprise that I like to see data represented visually. One of my favorite data visualizations is the one above from a blog called Flip Flop Fly Ball. The blog focuses on baseball, but the website it’s hosted on features lots of other quirky data visualizations including a graph of how many smarties are in the tube and a representation of the relationships between characters in the movie Love Actually.
I’m not really a big fan of baseball, but I do like sports and the discussion and statistics they generate. This graph crams in a lot of information. World Series winners from 1995 to 2009 are represented in pink (losers are in purple). Teams that had a better regular season record than the champions are above and those with a worse record are below (teams with identical records all appear in the same box); National League teams are in yellow; American League teams are in white; and wild card teams are in italics.
If this information were all presented in columns, it would be a bit hard to decipher. But shifting each column to align the winners puts the data in a new light. Whenever I think of this site, this is the data visualization I think of first. I’m not sure if there is a way to apply a similar approach to data generated in a classroom, but I imagine it would give a different perspective on students’ performance from the traditional bell curve.
Take a look around the site and you’ll get lots of different ideas for ways in which to represent data. You’ll probably also learn a few things about baseball and maybe find something that would get your ESL students talking.