Michael Gonchar and Sharon Hessney lead a new project at the New York Times called “What’s Going On in This Graph?” (WGOITG). Every second Tuesday of every month, the NYT publishes a graphic on a topic suitable for subjects across the middle school and high school curricula. They might remove some key information, such as titles, labels, and annotation, and then ask the students three questions:

• What do you notice?
• What do you wonder?
• What’s going on in this graph?

In posing these questions, the WGOITG project encourages students to think critically about statistics, numbers, and content. The NYT sums it up in this paragraph from The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ Math Forum:

The process of sense-making truly begins when we create questioning, curious classrooms full of students’ own thoughts and ideas. By asking What do you notice? What do you wonder? we give students opportunities to see problems in big-picture ways and discover multiple strategies for tackling a problem. Self-confidence, reflective skills, and engagement soar, and students discover that the goal is not to be “over and done,” but to realize the many different ways to approach problems.


Michael Gonchar joined The New York Times Learning Network in 2012 after spending more than 15 years as a social studies teacher, instructional coach and curriculum specialist in New York City public schools.

Sharon Hessney is Advanced Placement statistics content director for Mass Insight Education and the American Statistical Association coordinator for What’s Going On In this Graph?.  For two decades, she has taught and coached math for grades K – 12. She was a Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics and an Einstein Distinguished Educator Policy Fellow.

Episode Notes

What’s Going On in This Graph?

To learn more about how to use this strategy, see Annie Fetter’s video and her two-page explanation