What’s a Glyph?
If you don’t know about glyphs, you’re in for a treat and your kids with love them! Glyphs are pictures that represent specific pieces of information. They are a fantastic way to introduce students to graphical representation of data.
The glyphs you see at the top of this post are what I call “Let’s get to know each other” glyphs. I modified an example from Susan R. O’Connell’s book, Glyphs! and I use it at the beginning of my initial session with each of my elementary age students.
I like to introduce glyphs by first asking students how they usually answer questions. I give examples such as “Do you like ice cream?” In this case they answer with a word (usually the word “Yes!”). Then I ask “How many grade levels are in your school?” And they answer with a number.
Enter glyphs. Glyphs are just another way to represent answers to questions, but instead of relying on words or numbers, we use pictures. Depending on the ages of the students, I sometimes mention the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt at this point. Then we start making our own glyphs.
How to Make a Glyph
Each glyph is created based on answers to multiple choice questions. The glyphs above represent the answers given by three students to a series of questions about themselves, as shown in the table below.
With our table of questions and possible answers, combined with a picture, we can tell a lot about a person! For example, the student that is represented by the center picture: likes math (yay!), is a girl, is the youngest of four children, is 8 years old, and loves cats. That’s a lot of information contained in a sketch of a face!
Make Your Own Glyphs
There are lots of free resources for glyphs on the Internet. Try Mrs. Jackson’s Class, MathWire, or Sweet Tea Classroom. Or you can make up your own using questions about favorite snacks to create a gingerbread man glyph, or favorite holiday pastimes to create an elf glyph, or any topic you want.
So put on your creative hat and give it a try! A silly little picture could be the start of your child’s career as a data scientist, a field that is in ever-increasing demand!