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Graph Master Reviews


This review reflects the observations and experiences of independent teacher volunteers, and is provided as a service to Education World readers. The review in no way constitutes an endorsement of the product or its manufacturer by those teachers or by Education World.


Graph Master, a product of Tom Snyder Productions, is a graphing program for students in grades four through eight. The software allows students to create, manipulate, and interpret data in nine different graph types: bar graph, line graph, line plot, pictograph, scatterplot, box plot, circle graph, histogram, and frequency chart.

Recently, Education World asked five reviewers, all teachers or educational technology specialists, to check out Graph Master with real students in actual classroom situations. Each teacher was asked to use Graph Master with his or her students for a period of at least one month, note specific strengths, weaknesses, and/or quirks of the program, record personal observations or suggestions -- both positive and negative -- and rate the software on a scale of 1 through 4.

The results are in -- and this is what our reviewers had to say!



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"I would recommend Graph Master to other teachers; the students were engaged while working with the program and they asked to use it when not in class -- which tells me that they really enjoyed using the software. Graph Master supported the work done in class; it was a good supplement to our curriculum."

"Graph Master encourages students to analyze data, interpret results, and solve problems in a variety of curriculum areas. I like that the program allows students to make choices. They can use the data sets provided, import data from the Internet, or collect and enter their own data. They also can analyze data in multiple ways. Students can tally and sort raw data, create formulas and calculate statistics, compare related graphs, and write conclusions in the on-screen notebook."

"I plan to request this program for my network. It has a wide variety of uses and would be readily adaptable to many grade levels."

I would recommend this program for students in grades four through eight. If students have successfully used The Graph Club [a graphing program geared for primary students] in the early grades, I feel that third-grade students and academically talented second graders would also be able to use Graph Master. Teachers of special needs students at the high school level might find this a helpful tool as well."

"Graph Master correlates to NCTM standards. This program also can be integrated with additional curriculum areas where data collection and interpretation are necessary. The Classroom Activities section of the binder includes very useful examples of lessons that can be used "as is" or as models for teacher-created lessons. Teachers can also browse additional activities or add their own activities to the Graph Master Web page."

"Graph Master can be used for whole-class projects, small groups or partners, or individual projects based on other curriculum areas."

"Graphs can also be saved as .pict or .jpeg images, which then can be imported into other types of documents (word processing, spreadsheet, PowerPoint) or posted to Web pages. This adds many opportunities for students to utilize, share, and publish their work."

"I'd prefer that my students learn the real deal by using Excel, especially if software budgets are tight."

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"I might recommend that a teacher have one copy per classroom at grades K-2. I'm afraid it would be too simplistic and too repetitive if all K-4 teachers in a school used it extensively."

"This is an excellent software resource for the elementary level."

"This program is very easy to use, clearly helps young students understand how to visualize and interpret the meaning of data, and provides many modes of creative use. Teachers will find the program a "quick learn" as the guide is well-written, clear, and full of helpful ideas and resources."

"The higher level thinking skill of analysis and interpretation of graphs is emphasized. This is a critical skill, which is often de-emphasized."

"I have seen few elementary level graphing programs that are this user-friendly and challenging. The Graph Club has huge potential impact on helping mathematics become more understandable for the primary level student."

"I would recommend this program for independent use by 3rd and 4th graders. My first graders needed a lot of teacher intervention and group work. "

"One of the best features of the program is the ability to quickly move from one type of graph to another. Projecting graphs on our classroom TV monitor was well received by students. They enjoyed the "whoosh" sound effect. They also liked the pictures used to create the graphs. The icon sets and symbols fit in well with the themes used in first grade."

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"Instructions were well written. No problem with the install!"

"I loaded the program on both Mac and Windows and had no problems on either platform. All the directions -- the online directions as well as the written directions found in the teacher's manual -- were easy to follow. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly both programs loaded onto the computer."

"I ran this on a stand-alone and then had students do an installation from a CD tower on the network. The program was easy to manipulate and install."

"This program was easy to install on an iMac and a PowerBook simply by following the on-screen instructions. QuickTime needed to be updated on additional PowerMacs for the installation to be successful."

"Very easy to install!"

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"Students had no problem using the software. After an initial explanation, they were able to input and create the graphs as assigned."

All the directions were well written and easy to follow, and students had minimal problems using this program. They liked the window list feature, which allowed them to easily go back to previous graphs, the data table, or the Notebook at any point. Students had previously created graphs using Microsoft Excel software, and they thought this program was much easier to use. They liked how easy it was to change such attributes as the color of a bar and the format of a number. My students especially liked being able to preview their graphs and the ability to write in the Notebook. They also liked the option to print multiple graphs and notebook responses on a single sheet of paper."

"From my perspective, the best feature of the program was the option to customize the program to fit student needs. As a teacher, I also liked being able to decide how my students would obtain data. I liked having the choice of using the program's data sets, importing data from other spreadsheet programs or the Internet, or having students collect their own data. Screens were well designed and directions were easy to read. The students had no problems following the online directions. The only problem (which was not great) was that it required the QuickTime player to be updated."

"The addition of graphics and ease of use makes this a better choice than Excel for social studies graphing."

"Students can use their Graph Master work in other applications, which makes the program quite usable for various curriculum purposes. It would be helpful and more meaningful if students could import and use graphics such as clip art or photos to enhance their graphs; they could simply print the graphics to use 'as is.'"

The Notebook, in which students can type information about their graphs, is a helpful curriculum connection tool. Students can include the Notebook and one or more graphs when they print their work. This provides an opportunity to do additional higher-level thinking skills activities, such as inferring and synthesizing with their data."

"Younger students would probably need some initial instruction on how to navigate this program. Terminology such as 'data table' might need to be explained."

Student Comments:
Alicia: "It was hard for me to figure out the menus at first, but I think this would be really helpful for science fair next year."
Pablo: "This was a pretty neat way to learn about boring stuff."

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"No problems were noted. The program loaded correctly and in a short amount of time for both platforms. All links were accurate. The only problem noted was that students could average numbers in rows but did not have the option of averaging numbers in columns."

"I evaluated this software with seventh-grade students, but given the ease of pictograph construction, I think I could use it in technology skills classes with students as young as second grade."

"I think student (and teacher!) use of the program would be improved by a short, interactive tutorial that could be used to familiarize them with Graph Master's format and features."

"We experienced no technical glitches."

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"Students were engaged; they asked to use the program when they were in advisory time -- which is like study hall. They collaborated and worked out activities together. This is a great precursor to the seventh-grade math curriculum, in which students create their own gradebooks using Excel. The ability to analyze and compare graphs is a wonderful addition to this software."

"This program can save teacher time; it includes an excellent selection of classroom activity ideas that incorporate the provided data sets or allow students to collect their own data. The section that provides the overviews of each graph is excellent; it allowed much flexibility in how a teacher can use it. There was good alignment of the data analysis skills to the national NCTM standards. The content appeared to be interesting to my sixth grade students, and age-appropriate."

"I have purchased Tom Snyder software in the past and have always found it to be a good buy. This software is no exception. I am putting this on my network wish list."

"It's often difficult to create and design lessons that integrate software into the regular curriculum. The lesson plans in this program are very helpful."

"The program has nine different types of graphs -- depending on the type of data entered -- which allows for repeated, non-repetitious use by students for various curriculum tasks."

"The program will make construction of graphs by students much easier and less time consuming. However, students this age who are accustomed to more interactive types of applications might not find Graph Master as engaging as other software they use. Teachers could design activities combining the data displayed in Graph Master with projects using more-interactive programs, such as PowerPoint, HyperStudio, and Web design software -- which would keep students more engaged."

"In math class, students measured their long jumps and heights in centimeters and inches, then created a frequency chart using tallies and numbers on paper. Next, they gave me the information to type into the Data Table, and I printed several different graphs, which matched their paper-pencil graphs. They were impressed that their frequency tables matched the graphs and they were able to see the similarities and differences of the circle graph, pictograph, and bar graph. I introduced them to the line graph and the scatter plot, and I was impressed that they understood the data in a new format!"

"Excel is a much more powerful tool than Graph Master, so I would be more likely to invest in Excel. Graph Master is very basic and limited in its ability to customize graphs and charts. It's a fairly good stepping stone toward learning Excel, but not a substitute for it."

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"I really didn't need support. The supplementary materials were clear and concise, as were the instructions and Help tool. Several times, students used the Help tool on their own; they had no trouble finding the answers they needed."

"The activities matrix was helpful. Some excellent activity ideas were provided to get the teacher started, but I could easily have come up with many more! I believe this program could be used for all those occasions in which students are required to analyze numerical data. The Help tool was one of the best features of the program. I liked the organization of the contents window; it was very easy to find a specific area. I also liked the option of searching for items that are more specific. It was easy to move back and forth between Help and the graphing program. Troubleshooting tips were helpful, as was the availability of a toll-free number to call for additional help. I didn't have an occasion to call technical support, but I feel confident that I would have gotten any help I needed."

"The teacher's tool was well written and easy to follow."

"A Help tool is available, but it could be improved upon by providing more screen shots and detailed information. The teacher binder contains a very brief section on tech support and troubleshooting, which also provides a toll-free phone number and an e-mail address. I didn't need to contact tech support, so I have no personal knowledge of how available or knowledgeable they are."

"The built-in Help features are good. I particularly like the glossary. The Graph Master Web site also provides excellent links."

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