We as social studies teachers need to do a better job of using data, including charts and graphs, as part of our instruction. Every set of social studies standards that I have looked at requires kids to manipulate data and use it to make good decisions. There are different ways to do this but you need to check out ShowUSA and ShowWorld as a pretty sweet way to look at data.

showusaThe site offers users a new way to look at the world by resizing countries on the map according to a series of global issues. It covers a wide scope of subjects based on datasets provided by the most authoritative sources in their fields. and allows people to easily download the datasets, maps and animations. These can be shared across the Internet through websites, blogs and email. They add new subjects periodically.

It’s pretty simple to use:

Select a subject from the top menu and watch the states on the map change their size. Instead of land mass, the size of each state will represent the data for that subject–both its share of the total and absolute value.

For example, the screenshot below shows the number of states who have current budget shortfalls. The cool thing is that it becomes much more visual for kids. You also get suggestions for resources and specific data on the topic. Some pretty nice stuff!